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Fashion: At Wilderness House, Comfort Is Always In Style

September 24, 2010 | Story by: | Categories: Featured, Go Local, Shop & Dine

Wilderness House store owner, Lori Hamashima and her daughter Ellie.

Cary, NC- I ventured into Wilderness House this week to round out my Cary Fall Fashion boutique survey. I found comfort in every corner.

Wilderness House, has been in business in Cary since 1989. Formerly located in Saltbox Village, the Wilderness House moved to the Shops on the Parkway 2 years ago along with FreshMarket. The prices are very reasonable ranging from $20 t shirts to $200  hand knit sweaters.

When Lori and her husband Les first opened the store, they specialized in backpacking items, hence the name. They originally carried a lot of Northface and Patagonia, but when REI decided to locate in Cary, Wilderness House evolved to focus on women’s clothing with that same priority on comfort.

Her customers are not necessarily slaves to fashion. Lori told me she has a part-time staff of 10 moms who can really relate to the clients who shop there. The sales staff not only take good care of the shoppers but of each other.  Last week, Lori’s youngest daughter Ellie had a fever, and everyone rushed to fill her hours so that she could be home with her sick child.

Very popular early fall item- leopard print flyaway jacket

Early Fall Winners:

  • Fly-away jackets with draped necklines but fitted waistlines are clear winners this season for Lori. The animal print style above is a key example. The back of the jacket is seamed so that it fits the body closely.
  • A nubby purple jacket, also available in lime, has almost sold out even though the weather has been warm until this week.
  • Her Dansko shoes have added animal prints in some clogs and are selling well. And patent leather has been gaining popularity- and she even had a pair in purple! Wilderness House is one of a handful of stores in the area that carry the Dansko shoe line. These shoes are not only stylish, but actually good for your feet (they carry the American Podiatric Medical Associations (APMA) Seal of Acceptance).
  • Chunky hand knit sweaters are a category that her customers look to her for. A  cream-style version only had one piece left on the table. Several others had novelty silver buttons.

Dansko shoes in some fun animal prints have sold well.

Perennial favorites:

The store carries Jag jeans in an array of styles. These aren’t carried by any other boutique in the area that I know of and are a mom-favorite for their relaxed fit. Aventura and Woolrich are other lines as well as Cubism, whose knit tops are popular.

Each shop I visited this month in Cary, has a unique point of view. They all seem to “know” their customers. In these tough times, it was thrilling to speak to these store owners who are passionate about what they do and that contagious spirit is what keeps customers coming back.

If you’d like a Shop Cary poster for your business, please contact Lindsey Chester.


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