Harlow boutique expands to second Whitefish location

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Portrait of Harlow and Harlette owner Becky Rygg at Harlow in Whitefish. (Brenda Ahearn/Flathead Journal)

Harlow won’t be an only child for much longer.

The Whitefish boutique is getting a sibling — a slightly more refined, upscale clothing shop called Harlette. Owner Becky Rygg will open the doors to her second location in mid-October in the recently renovated corner building at 100 Central Ave.

Both of Rygg’s boutiques feature a blend of L.A. and New York City looks, bringing small designer samplings from both coasts to Northwest Montana.

She carries niche denim brands such as Mother Denim and Rails, and prioritizes labels that are made in the USA. The shop has an eclectic mix of apparel: flowing floral dresses, T-shirts adorned with witty slogans and comfy knit sweaters.

Harlette will feature lines along the same motif, but at a slightly higher price point than what’s stocked at Harlow, such as the ultra-feminine dressmaker, For Love and Lemons, and Los Angeles-based denim company Current/Elliot.

The bread and butter of both her shops are smaller, younger designers who often can’t be found in department stores.

“Anytime I go away from it, it’s not always the best decision,” Rygg said. Case in point was her recent decision to oust the “huge corporate line” Free People, known for its bohemian vibe, in favor of smaller brands.

Rygg’s foray into clothing sales began when she moved to L.A. in 2002, and later, to New York City. Her original aim was a career in acting, but her backup post in retail sales soon became her primary endeavor. After five years in the urban jungle, the Whitefish native returned home in 2012 and opened Harlow.

“Whitefish is a really cyclical town,” she said. “I think I’ve been trying really hard the last five years to build up the local love.”

To do so, she hosts in-store parties where customers can shop for deals while they sip on Prosecco and advertises a new sale every Friday. Earlier this summer, the store celebrated its fifth birthday and Rygg shut down the neighboring alley, brought in a band, Sweet Peaks ice cream and sharply discounted items. She maintains an active presence on social media, showcasing new looks from the store with the hashtag #wearitharlow.

And her efforts have paid off: she estimates that roughly 80 percent of her sales come from local shoppers, with the remaining 20 percent from tourists.

For Rygg, the move to the town’s main street has been a long time coming.

“Just getting people down here has always been a struggle,” she said of her current digs on Railway Street. “It’s always been a goal to find something on Central.”

Harlette is located in a narrow, but sleek space on the first floor of the building, which will also house an art gallery, interior design firm and multiple office spaces. In addition to more upscale brands, Harlette will carry more formal attire: think office-wear and dresses.

“I’m often asked for things that people can wear to work, or really pretty dresses, and so that’s what I want over there,” Rygg said of the new location.

Rygg also hopes to use Harlette to drive more foot traffic to Harlow, and the store’s Railway Street neighbor, Spotted Bear Spirits.

“It’s just this insane, growing little town,” Rygg said. “Each summer just gets better and better and better.”

A grand opening party for Harlette is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 26. Details can be found by following either of Rygg’s shops on Instagram at @myharlette or @myharlow. Harlette will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday, except for Friday when the store will be open for an additional hour in the evening, and from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Reporter Mackenzie Reiss may be reached at 758-4433 or mreiss@dailyinterlake.com.

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