One woman's shopping leads to a store of her own GLEN BURNIE

February 10, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

Deborah Contrino enjoyed the beautiful and inexpensive clothes she bought for her son, now 3, at consignment stores so much that she and her mother, Doris Allen, decided to open their own shop.

Mrs. Allen's sister, Faye Keller, didn't want to be left out, so now the three women own and run Little Britches.

The women decided to turn their own love of bargain shopping into a shop of bargains at the end of last summer. Mrs. Allen and Mrs. Contrino often spent Saturday mornings at flea markets and yard sales.

In September, they started spending weekends looking at potential store sites and opened their shop in December in a blue and white building they fixed up on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard across from Marley Middle School.

The store runs the way other consignment shops do, with the seller netting a percentage of what the item sells for.

Clothing ranges from newborn to size 14, with prices from under $1 for a little romper to $25 for a frilly dress, plus maternity clothes. There are toys, car seats, cribs, all used, all in good condition. A few crafts items, such as name bracelets and bootees decorated with hearts, are new.

Some of the clothes, especially the infant sizes, were outgrown before they were worn. "A lot of the stuff, their kids don't get to wear it," Mrs. Allen said.

The shop is "a lifesaver," said Carolyn Perry, who lives down the street from Little Britches. "This has good prices."

A foster parent, she said many of the children who have come to stay with her over the years arrive with nothing but the clothes they were wearing, so she has to outfit them. "I had 29 different kids last summer," she said, noting that she could not afford to buy only new clothes.

After examining a powder-blue sweat suit priced at $2.37, she pronounced it perfect for her daughter.

Mrs. Contrino and her mother and sister all work in the store at various times and do everything -- often learning as they go.

The store is open until 8 p.m. most days. But that came only after customers told the women that a 6 p.m. closing was too early for working parents. They may change the shop hours again, Mrs. Allen said.

And if the business takes off, the women may buy the building they're renting, said Mrs. Contrino.

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