FREDERICTON – As a mom to two young boys, Angela Orfei was keenly aware of the struggles of constantly buying new clothes as her children grew.
Orfei has come up with a solution to that: a children’s boutique that sells both new and used clothing. Crabapple Kids Boutique also carries locally made items like soaps and hair accessories, as well as brands of products that aren’t available elsewhere in the province and even the Maritimes.
“I am very proud that with no business background, no retail experience, except for a few years working at Superstore as a teen, a history major and former library assistant has created a profitable business with an initial investment of only $500,” she says.
Originally from Calgary, Orfei had been on the hunt for an endeavour that would allow her to put her creativity and passion to work while maintaining the flexibility to be a stay-at-home mom. She says she found a unique opportunity and community of people who needed this kind of business in Fredericton.
The boutique is unique not only in the products it carries, but in its location and the way it started. Orfei began by selling used clothes from her home before securing a small spot at the Northside Market. She has now expanded into a 2,500 square-foot storefront in the market building.
“Fredericton is so supportive of entrepreneurs and small businesses. This is something I would never have had the opportunity to do back in Calgary,” she says. “I feel like the Northside Market is an amazing small business incubator and a great, family-friendly destination.”
Orfei says the name Crabapple is evocative of the dynamic spirit of her store.
“Crabapple trees are my favourite trees: lush and fragrant in spring, bearing bright and beautiful fruit in summer, breathtaking foliage in fall, astonishing bark in winter,” she says. “They’re always changing, always beautiful, season after season. My shop is similar in a way, ever-changing, season after season, fun and fresh new products and trendy resale.
Since the business started as a table at the Northside market, Orfei was able to tap into the existing customer base at the market and grow with virtually no advertising. Word about the consignment store has travelled through social media and by word-of-mouth. She says she has even kept customers who shopped the first sales out of her home.
For her, the market served as a kind of experiment to see if her idea was a viable one.
“We’re very casual and I think a lot of our customers like that. We know them by name. Being moms, we have similar experiences so we chat and get to know our customers,” she says.
Orfei has made a point of ensuring that the used clothing she sells is of the highest quality and condition. She says used clothing often gets a bad rap and as a result, huge amounts of used clothing are wasted by being thrown out. In exchange for donations of used clothing, Orfei offers store credit, which she says her customers are eager to accept.
“We’ve set ourselves apart from the regular thrift stores where there are only certain brands we take. We try to stick to higher-end boutique brands. We’re very picky with what we accept. It has to be in excellent condition. I have an eagle eye for stains. I want to set myself apart,” she says.
The new Crabapple Kids Boutique space, which offers dressing rooms and a kids’ play area, opened August 11th and is open to the public during regular market hours on weekends as well as Fridays 9am to 4pm.