Store offering new women's clothing opens downtown

LACONIA — Once a destination for retail sales, downtown Laconia hasn't introduced a store that sells new, everyday women's clothing for a long time. With the opening of Coraline's Closet, two local women have brought an offering from Laconia's past into the city's present — and have used modern techniques to do so.
Cori Hooker and Ashley Nialetz have been friends since they were teenagers, both members of Gilford High School's Class of '02. Nialetz has since become a web design and social media professional, while Hooker tends bar at a local restaurant and has developed a zeal for shopping. It occurred to the two of them, after Hooker stumbled across a website for a wholesale clothing supplier, that they could combine Nialetz's expertise with her friend's shopping passion. Coraline's Closet, a women's clothing store, is the result, and though they've only been in operation for a short while, they say response has been greater than they had hoped.
Coraline's Closet, located at 100 Beacon Street West — just north of Sawyer's Jewelry — will be hosting a grand opening celebration today from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition to refreshments, the event will feature a 20 percent off sale and a giveaway of a granite bench, made by Graystone Masonry.
Nialetz and Hooker began their venture in February as an online retailer. They have promoted their business purely through social networks — Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and the old-fashioned word-of-mouth. They had thought about transitioning eventually to a brick-and-mortar store, but were surprised at how  quickly their clientele drew them toward that eventuality. "We were finding that people shopping on the website wanted to see the clothes in person," said Nialetz. "It took off and we had so much interest."
Their local, online customers were eager to visit their storefront, which opened on May 1. Meanwhile, customers that first learned of the story by passing by also became connected to the company through virtual means after their initial purchase. "There's a lot of people stopping by, they're so excited to find a place where they can get new clothing again," said Nialetz.
Stocking what Hooker calls "dressy-casual" clothing for women, Coraline's Closet offers tops, bottoms, dresses and skirts, as well as accessories. They hand-pick the items they stock, selecting only items that are in fashion, in season and affordable. Hooker said no clothing in the store costs more than $30. "We look for what we would want to wear," said Hooker. And, in the wake of the Abercrombie & Fitch controversy over refusing to serve plus-sized customers, Coraline's Closet is proud to stock sizes from extra-small to XXXL.
Hooker and Nialetz recall coming downtown to shop for clothes at Cherry & Webb (which closed in 2000). Hooker said, "This is where we're from, we're trying to bring something back to this community." Encouraged by efforts, such as the Laconia Main Street Initiative, to revitalize downtown, she said, "We want to be part of that."
Coraline's Closet is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the weekends.

Cori Hooker and Ashley Nialetz are owners of Coraline's Closet, which retails new women's clothing in downtown Laconia. The store is holding a grand opening celebration today. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Adam Drapcho)