Walking into Mabel D. Orr Fashion Boutique is like stepping into a closet straight out of the ’80s. You are greeted by scarves and hats of vibrant color and design, while your eyes take in mannequins dressed in looks that come off as both elegant and original. The entire place has a warm, charming atmosphere that immediately draws you in, taking you to a place floating in between time — stretching back to take the best of the past, and bringing it into the present.
Heidi Weeks, the founder and owner of Mabel D. Orr Fashion Boutique, always dreamed of opening her own vintage store, having grown up loving clothes and appreciating secondhand pieces. Originally opening the store in Cape Cod three years ago, Weeks moved her store back to her hometown early this June.
The city of Binghamton’s strong sense of community drew Weeks back home.
“I realized that I would have more of an opportunity to grow coming back to a town where there’s a community and business that’s open all year rather than a seasonal place,” she said.
However, Weeks aims to do more than just follow her dreams.
“For me it’s important not to just open a shop and do what I love,” she said. “I wanted to be able to give back to a community that supported me all my life.”
Mabel D. Orr Fashion Boutique’s catch phrase, “Eclectic finds to suit all kinds,” ties up with Weeks’ motto of combining styles to match different people.
“It’s like antiques versus IKEA,” Weeks said. “I think too much of one is boring. I’m eclectic, I like to mix it up. For me, clothing is like art. So I like to find different interesting pieces and put them together.”
One of the things that makes Mabel D. Orr Fashion Boutique special is the variety of its collection. The boutique has a range of items — old sweaters with bold prints, decorative and casual hats, patterned socks and a newly expanded section for men.
“We have a very personal service in here; we like to dress people in a way that makes them comfortable and we may try to take them out their comfort zone a little, but, you know, everybody has their own wonderful [style],” she said.
While talking about her ambitions for the store, Weeks shared that bringing in the community was a major goal.
“I would like to see more people shop Binghamton — shop local,” she said.
Weeks said that business is growing every day. While most of her customers are women around the age of 25 or older, she’s hoping to have more students and younger people come in. She aims to cater to all of her customers personally, and thrives on the relationships she forms. More than just finding the right look for everyone, she wants to make tasteful fashion accessible to the public.
“Style and fashion doesn’t have to cost you a thousand bucks,” Weeks said. “You can have a really great look for a lot less money, and it’s a lot more fun.”