Vail’s Charm School Boutique closing after 19 years
Boutique owner Carla Lewis ready to try retirement after 19 years in Vail
Carla Lewis has had a good run. Now she’s looking forward to what’s next.
Lewis is the owner of the Charm School Boutique, in the Sitzmark building in Vail Village. The shop is expected to close July 15. The store started life in Glenwood Springs 27 years ago, and has been in Vail for the past 19. Now, Lewis says she’s retiring, at least for a while.
“I’ll see how I like it,” she said.
But after nearly 30 years, it’s time for something new, she said.
“The whole retail environment has changed,” Lewis said. The COVID-19 virus has changed that environment even more.
Even with so much shopping just a click or two away, stores like the Charm School Boutique still invite in-person visits.
“My type of store is one you need to come in and experience,” Lewis said. “It’s so different from the stuff you find online.”
Offering something different has always been the idea of the Charm School Boutique.
When she started in Glenwood Springs, Lewis made everything herself, and also hit various regional arts and craft fairs on the weekends.
As her inventory expanded, Lewis included items from different designers who inspired her. As business improved, she found herself leaning on designers more and her own work less.
Moving to Vail was the result of a little planning and a little luck.
On a weekend in Beaver Creek, she picked up a local newspaper and found an offer to rent space in Vail Village for the coming winter.
It was right after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, “a weird time,” she recalled.
“I thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’” Lewis recalled. So she tapped into her savings, and took the plunge.
“Vail had a clientele, and I could (represent) the designers I wanted to carry,” she said. “I was offered this spot (in Vail) after closing the temporary store and thought, ‘let’s do it’ — Vail’s the place I always wanted to be.”
And the spot in the Sitzmark has treated her well. Lewis said she’s grateful to Bob and Helen Fritch, who owned the Sitzmark at the time — Jeanne Fritch runs the place now.
“Bob and Helen took a chance on me,” Lewis said. “It’s worked out really well.”
As she winds down operations, Lewis said she’s seeing and hearing from longtime clients. That’s been a little bittersweet, she said.
“People are saying ‘I bought my prom dress, or my wedding dress,’” she said.
She’s going to miss those people, of course, but for Lewis, it’s time for the next chapter in her life.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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