Denise LaChance and The Closet on Main
● By Melissa Mendonca
Dream Come TrueFebruary 2016
By Melissa Mendonca
Nestled in amongst the boutique shops on Red Bluff’s iconic 600 block of Main Street is The Closet, a clothing store for women that owner Denise LaChance, 34, describes as “fun fashion, not so much for the younger crowd, with just a bit of a country vibe, comfortable yet fashionable.”
It’s not difficult to determine how the store was named. The building itself is a mere 11 feet wide, yet it’s long on character and holds the big dreams of a woman who was ready to go into business for herself.
“I’d always wanted to do something on my own,” says LaChance. “My husband has been self-employed and I knew I wanted that, too.” As their twin boys neared high school graduation, the entrepreneur realized the time had arrived to leave her job with Tehama County courts criminal division and open the shop she’d dreamed of for years.
As the boys, Trenton and Brandon, were heading off to Shasta College and Santa Rosa Junior College, La Chance says, “I knew I also wanted to show them, if you have your dreams, follow them. It’s never too late.”
As her boys were saying goodbye, LaChance found new life in her colleagues, the owners of the boutiques surrounding The Closet. “I love the historic feeling of all these old buildings,” she says. “There are a lot of fun other boutiques and we all work so well together. It’s amazing the camaraderie we have. It’s just like a little family right here.”
Indeed, the shop owners collaborate often on special events that bring people downtown, such as spring and fall fashion shows and holiday celebrations that bring festivity back to seasons.
As for her inventory, LaChance brings in what works for her age group, because that’s what she knows best and is what she enjoys. With no formal experience in fashion merchandising, she works with a love of clothing and a good sense of what fashionable North State women like to wear. She also emphasizes the importance of her pieces being quality yet reasonably priced.
“It’s just so much fun to put together outfits and help people that come in,” she says. “It’s not just a piece of clothing. It ends up turning into a bond and a relationship.” As if on cue, a customer returning a sweater to the rack after leaving the dressing room turns to say, “And she’s honest.”
For LaChance is happiest when she can give her customers “that confidence to walk out with something that they look great in.” This year, as The Closet nears its second anniversary, LaChance is heading to the fashion market of Dallas, where she expects to find clothes that maintain a little more of that hip country vibe she appreciates so much. Her usual buying trips are to Los Angeles, but she’s excited to branch out to more vendors in Texas.
“For that 25-40 age group, the fashion seems to be changing, and it’s fun to watch the changes that go along with it,” she says, adding, “I keep people in mind on shopping trips.” A fan of styles that go with boots, LaChance says she’s particularly fond of winter “with all the layering. It’s endless possibilities.”
Self-employment is never easy, especially with high startup costs, including development of custom-made fixtures LaChance built with her dad, Steve Runnels, and called “the never ending project.” Still, LaChance says her decision to follow that dream of setting out on her own has been one of the best she’s ever made.
“I feel really amazing and good about myself,” she says. “I’m proud that I can be part of this community and offer this. And in all honesty, I am less stressed being in business for myself, working all these hours, than in a 9-to-5 job.”
From the courts to The Closet, Denise LaChance continues to hone her dream in her hometown, making Red Bluff a little more fashionable and a little more friendly as she does so.
641 Main Street, Red Bluff
Find The Closet on Main on Facebook