Win­drush owner takes mat­ters into her own hands

Sherbrooke Record - - BROME COUNTY NEWS - By Steve Blake

When the Wool­rich cloth­ing store left Knowl­ton ear­lier this year, Chan­tal Cloutier was out of a job. She took mat­ters into her own hands and opened Win­drush bou­tique in the same build­ing in which she had worked for the past few years. She is the co-owner of the new bou­tique with her hus­band, Ian Bryson.

“This is a new chal­lenge,” Cloutier said Fri­day.

She was an as­sis­tant man­ager for Wool­rich, and was the man­ager for the past few years. She worked for Wool­rich for 12 years.

“We knew things were go­ing down­hill the last few years,” she said. “There was less in­no­va­tion in the ba­sic lines and the col­lec­tion was get­ting smaller and smaller.” Em­ploy­ees got the news last De­cem­ber that the store would be clos­ing in March. She and her hus­band got busy. Wool­rich would be sell­ing some of its fur­ni­ture and props. They

went to one bank, which de­clined to lend them money. They went to Caisse Des­jardins, which “said yes to the project.” Cloutier and Bryson bought some of the fur­ni­ture. They made ar­range­ments to rent the space from owner Fran­cois Le­quin and they opened Win­drush on June 7.

“We had to de­cide, and take the op­por­tu­nity when it was there,” Bryson said. “Ev­ery­thing fell into place.”

“My hus­band is an ad­min­is­tra­tor,” Cloutier said. “He’s a per­fect match.”

When asked if open­ing her own busi­ness was nerve-wrack­ing, she replied, “A bit. But it’s nice to own and make your own de­ci­sions.” Her sup­pli­ers, she said, have been won­der­ful, and the res­i­dents of the Town of Brome Lake have been sup­port­ive. “I’m happy to be in a nice neigh­bour­hood.”

The Mon­treal na­tive has lived in Brome County for 24 years. She is used to work­ing with the pub­lic. Be­fore mov­ing, she said, she worked part time for The Bay in Mon­treal.

“It was a chal­lenge to start the store,” Cloutier said. When they opened they bought the sum­mer line of cloth­ing. A month later they had to buy the fall and win­ter line. “There was a lot of buy­ing,” she said.

But friends helped to get the store ready for open­ing. A co-worker from Wool­rich helped, as did the cou­ple’s daugh­ter. She said they couldn’t pay them im­me­di­ately. They cur­rently have a part-time em­ployee, Margo Allen, who works the odd day.

The store of­fers what Cloutier de­scribes as rea­son­ably priced cloth­ing sim­i­lar to Wool­rich’s. The Royal Rob­bins line, she said, is good qual­ity. They also carry some lines from Den­mark, like Lolë, which was cre­ated in Mon­treal but is now of­fered world­wide.

The name Win­drush is a for­mer farm name. Cloutier said Bryson’s par­ents moved from Mon­treal and bought a farm 40 years ago. They named it Win­drush Farm. They are now gone, but Bryson took the name Win­drush Mar­ket­ing for his firm.

“He had the do­main and he de­signed the logo,” she said. “Ian used to wind­surf on the lake.”

Cloutier said she didn’t go along with the idea at first, but she liked the sails. And they have a son named Wil­liam, so there are a lot of W’s in her life.

“I never thought I’d open a store,” Cloutier said. “The clos­ing of Wool­rich – it was a shock to ever­body.” She pointed out that Jones of New York also closed.

She stressed that she could not have opened her store with­out her hus­band.

“He’s a big part of it.” He does the of­fice work and some­times works on the floor.

There’s a lot of work. Some Mon­days when Allen works, Cloutier and Bryson don’t ex­actly get the day off. They some­times go to Mon­treal to buy.

“But it’s for our­selves,” she said. “Maybe in the fu­ture we can have a staff and get two days off a week.”

PHO­TOS BY STEVE BLAKE

Large draft horses and lit­tle ones alike were part of the pa­rade.

PHOTO BY STEVE BLAKE

Win­drush own­ers Chan­tal Cloutier and her hus­band Ian Bryson stand next to the logo he de­signed. Cloutier lost her job when Wool­rich closed in March so the cou­ple opened their own store.

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