LIMA — Upscale women’s clothing boutique Jean & Lily’s has returned to its downtown roots.
The locally owned boutique, which specializes in big city styles, recently moved from its Allentown Road storefront to 220 N. Main St., to take part in the downtown area’s revitalization.
“I jumped at the opportunity to come down here,” said Linda Hampshire, who founded Jean & Lily’s Fashion Boutique in 2014. “I’m really looking forward to Lima becoming prosperous again and a place where people want to hang out and shop.”
The boutique specializes in women’s fashion — from casual to formal wear — with styles hand-selected from runways and boutiques in Atlanta, New York, Chicago and California.
That’s something Hampshire prides herself on — making “big city” fashion accessible in Lima.
“People don’t have to go out of town to shop,” she said. “I’m bringing it here.”
The store — named after Hampshire’s mother Jean and mother-in-law Lily — is known for its fascinators and wide-brim hats, popular during derby season and Easter.
While the boutique caters to women 30 years old and older, Hampshire has expanded her inventory to include millennial-friendly fashions like leather jackets and colorful pleated skirts.
And while Jean & Lily’s has an online presence through Facebook, the boutique relies on seasonal fashion shows to market its styles to prospective customers throughout the year.
Hampshire spent the majority of her career in education, retiring in 2012 from Lima schools after 37 years. But owning an upscale women’s fashion boutique was a lifelong dream of Hampshire’s, so she came out of retirement two years later to pursue her passion.
Jean & Lily’s started in a small, 500 square foot storefront on Main Street. But the boutique quickly outgrew the space and moved to a 2,000 square foot storefront at 2419 Allentown Road, the store’s home for the last five-and-a-half years.
“I wanted to start out small to test the waters,” Hampshire recalled. “At seven months, we were bursting at the seams so we got out of there. … But all that time I still had the little dream, I wanted to come downtown. I wanted to be part of the downtown revitalization.”
So when the storefront at 220 N. Main St., opened up this summer, Hampshire decided to move back out to Main Street.
Hampshire believes her customer service and high-quality inventory are keeping her in business, despite competition from online retailers that has forced other brick and mortar stores to close shop.
“Our age group, we want to test the waters,” she said. “We want to feel it and make sure we’re getting value for our money. We don’t want to have to do the ordering and sending back. This way we get to see it.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.