By Malika-Budur Kalila
In her high school years, Michele McCarthy had a dream to open a store on Center Street in Lewiston.
Her life took a different direction, however, and she got married and moved to Canada.
While others might forget an early dream, McCarthy did not. After raising four boys in Canada, McCarthy made her first step to the dream she had been wishing "all her life." Six months ago, she opened Chantilly Rose, her new store at 480 Center St., Lewiston.
Center Street is mostly famous for its restaurants and cafés. McCarthy said having only restaurants on Center Street is not enough to entertain people.
"There are so many restaurants, it has to balance out," she said.
Chantilly Rose is focused on women's clothes, linens and home accessories. The style of products is mostly Victorian and bohemian.
"I always like reading Victoria magazine; I just love the styles that they had in their advertisements for clothes and decor," McCarthy said.
She noted Lewiston is, of course, a historical village. Its old-fashioned "light right out and old-time barber shop" reminded her of growing up in the '70s. It was then she became familiar with bohemian style. She decided Lewiston was the "perfect location to put all that style together."
Having options for customers of different ages and offering plus-size clothes are an important parts of the store's mission.
"Everybody wants to look nice at every age," McCarthy said. "I try to have all age groups."
She recalled her cousin, who came for a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony and bought four tops.
McCarthy said plus-size tops are popular, because they are not available in all stores.
She noted boutique prices are usually slightly higher. Though her prices might be a bit more than average, McCarthy said it's because she carries plus-size clothes, and all her products are made in the USA.
While describing her first six months McCarthy said, "It is busy in summertime."
She also shared the weather has been the only challenge she's faced so far.
"The rain has been torrential. ... Almost every afternoon we get a downpour and that is a hindrance for people to come out," McCarthy said.
Other than that, she found everyone to be supportive and, even if she faces some obstacles in the future, she said she could handle it.
McCarthy said, "I feel very happy right now. I love coming in the morning and opening the door and helping people to find their gifts and clothes."
She added, "I've been planning to open my store all my life. ... It is a dream come true."
Chantilly Rose is located at 480 Center St. For more information, call 716-304-8343 or visit the store's Facebook and Instagram pages.