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Madame Fancy Pants finds best fit

Wellington retail institution Madame Fancy Pants is closing in the capital so Wairarapa-born owner-operator Claire Terry can concentrate on her Greytown store.

Terry started the original boutique store in Wellington’s Cuba St 16 years ago and has operated it remotely since moving back to Featherston in mid-2016.

She opened the Greytown branch of Madame Fancy Pants in 2020.

It wasn’t an easy decision to close the Cuba St store [its final trading day will be February 23], but Terry concluded it was necessary so she could prioritise herself and her family.

“I felt a little bit like I had given up. But eventually, I decided on a date to close, and the weight was instantly lifted off my shoulders.

“I told the team we were closing the evening after Jacinda resigned. It felt like I could’ve said her exact speech.

“No matter how big it is, you’ve got to have something left to give.”

Operating the Cuba St store remotely had become a challenge since last winter, Terry said, “with covid, sicknesses, and not enough staff. I had to drive over to Wellington to fill in when we didn’t have enough people. It was just too much.”

Terry said Greytown has a family-friendly business district.

“I really like it, especially moving back from the big smoke. Comparing Cuba St and Greytown is kind of like apples and oranges.

“Apart from the real estate agents, the town is predominantly independent businesses, and they’re all so different.”

The Greytown store still has a large Wellington clientele.

“It’s funny; during the week it is 90 per cent locals and 10 per cent Wellingtonians, and then on the weekend, it is 90 per cent Wellingtonians while the locals hide away.

“Some people from Petone said they came to Greytown because it felt easier to drive over the hill than to try to get parking in Wellington city.”

Terry described the store as a curated boutique of things she likes.

“You can’t sell things you don’t like. There are some clothes I wouldn’t wear myself, but I can imagine them on a friend.

“I started the store when I was a poor mum with a two-year-old. It was important for me to be inclusive. I didn’t want anyone to feel priced out of the store.”

Despite marking the end of her Wellington store, Terry also sees 2023 as a year of new beginnings.

“I make jewellery and have a workshop space at the back of the Greytown store. I’m hoping to organise some child-friendly workshops.

“I really want to focus on the positives. It is time for a new chapter in the business.”

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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