Uppers & Downers: Still Going Strong After Nearly 44 Years
Owner Debbie Miles’ path to small business ownership was not “a direct route.”
It all began when she attended Clarion University as an education major and took a part-time job at a small downtown clothing store.
“I worked part-time, but really, I always liked clothing and fashion, so I really became involved,” Debbie told exploreClarion.com.
The one thing she wasn’t fond of was the focus on denim at the time, but luckily, that focus began to shift.
After the business moved to her current 616 Main Street location, its focus began to transition from mostly denim to more ladies clothing.
“The previous owner moved it to this location then decided he’d had enough of it, and I decided I really liked it, and that’s how I got started.
“I bought the business from him, and I’ve been here ever since.”
Debbie bought the boutique in 1978.
During those initial years of ownership, Uppers & Downers focused mainly on dresses, as that was most popular at the time; however, as the market changed over the years, so did the store’s inventory.
“You really have to change with the times as your market changes, but those early days were really fun days. At that time, there were more ladies’ shops in Clarion, but we all respected each other’s inventory and bought accordingly.”
While there have been many changes over the years, Miles says that currently, dresses have actually begun to make a bit of a comeback.
“The market for dresses is becoming stronger and we’re reverting back to more dresses since we’re selling more of them, but tops and bottoms are still primarily what we’re selling.”
Along with dresses and separates, Uppers and Downers has a bit of everything, from jewelry to purses, totes, and even phone cases.
There is one thing that almost all of the items have in common, though.
“We really strive to have everything made in the USA,” Miles noted.
Though the store is still going strong, Miles also noted that her absence from the business in the last few years and the current shortened hours may have had some customers concerned.
“(Over) the past four years, I had some family illnesses to handle, so I had to curtail my hours to Thursday, Friday, and Saturday only.”
While Miles is currently only open to the public three days per week, there is more going on behind the scenes. She also does specialty direct purchases for regular customers.
“I will go to the market and buy specifically for my customers,” she noted.
“So many of my customers are returning customers from over the years. I want to stay in business several more years, at least, just because I love my customers and what I do.”
Miles is hoping to begin to extend her hours again this fall.
“You never really know what the market will support, but hopefully we’ll begin to see more people coming to this area.”
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