Store gives clothes ‘second chance at happiness’

Designer brands — at a discount no less — have come to Hanover with this week’s opening of the Pink Alligator, a women’s boutique consignment shop on South Main Street.

“If you’re not wearing your clothing, it’s time to give them a second chance at happiness,” said Catharine Johnson, a Hanover native and owner of the new shop.

Johnson, who opened the first Pink Alligator store in Norwich, Vt. last October, said she always knew she wanted to move back to her home town.

“In Norwich, we did well, but I am never satisfied with ‘well,’ so I waited until there was retail space available in Hanover to move back,” Johnson said.

The shop specializes in middle- to high-end designer clothing for women and teens, but Johnson also plans to add a costume department in the near future.

People who bring clothing to the Pink Alligator receive 50 percent of the money generated by the sale of their clothing. The store displays each garment of clothing for 60 days. If the clothing is not sold, the owner can decide whether to take it back or donate it to a thrift store in Bethel, Vt. Individuals who choose to use the money earned from selling their clothing to shop at the Pink Alligator recieve an extra 10 percent off their purchase.

Johnson said she originally opened a consignment shop to involve her daughter in the process of creating a business.

“I thought it would be a wonderful and unique experience for her to be able to be involved from the get-go,” she said. “I also wanted to be able to employ her friends.”

Johnson said her 17-year-old daughter, Sarah Donahue, helped with everything from merchandising to developing a business plan.

“How often do you get an opportunity to work with your child at something that is a common interest?” Johnson asked. “We’re having a blast together.”

Johnson said she would like her business to be as environmentally friendly as possible. All of the clothing is “recycled,” and the store does not use plastic bags, she said.

Johnson said she does not believe her store will draw shoppers away from the Listen Center, a second-hand clothing shop in West Lebanon.

“We are trying to create a boutique with high-end clothing for low prices,” Johnson said. “I personally love the Listen Center. Every dollar that you spend there is helping to provide essential services for the community.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Johnson notes that “a Bella shopper will still be a Bella shopper,” referring to the high-end clothing store in Hanover.

Johnson has a long history working in and around Hanover. Before opening her first consignment store, she operated Wheelock Travel Incorporated, a travel agency.

“We mainly helped Dartmouth and Tuck students with their travel plans,” she said. “There was one year that we served 169 out of the 176 students at Tuck.”

After 10 years in the travel industry, Johnson sold her business and built an ice skating rink in Quechee, Vt. Over the course of five years, Johnson taught a total of 543 ice skating students, she said.

Johnson said feels confident about the future of the Pink Alligator, despite the store having only opened three days ago.

“Thus far, it has absolutely exceeded my expectations,” she said.

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