Rent-a-designer-dress store debuts in Brunswick

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BRUNSWICK — There is an inherent problem with designer goods, business owner Stacey Rice explained Tuesday, Oct. 20.

“You might get tired of it after a year or so,” especially as new styles come out, she said. And of course, “they’re pretty pricey.”

But where some see despair, Rice and business partner Ria Glenn DeMay see opportunity.

Rice and Glenn DeMay launched Borrow My Boutique at Senter Place on Maine Street. The early business has been “very good,” Rice said.

The concept is simple: customers can rent designer clothes every month, and save money while wearing a wider array of styles.

Borrow My Boutique offers new and gently used designer dresses and handbags for purchase or rent. For example, a Catherine Malandrino dress on one rack was available for $80 to purchase, or $35 to rent for the month.

Other designers to choose from, Rice said, include Michael Kors, Kate Spade and Prada.

Borrow my Boutique is “rent to own,” meaning the price of a rental can go towards the full price of purchase, if the customer decides he or she wants to keep the item.

Customers can also apply for memberships. Basic membership, which is $50, gets shoppers one dress and one designer handbag every month. Premium membership, which is $75, provides one designer dress and unlimited handbags.

And, according to Rice, there’s no “break-it-you-bought-it” policy if a dress or bag comes back damaged or stained.

“We figured we could take the loss,” she said. “We don’t want our customer to feel constantly in fear in her dress. We want to make women feel good about themselves.”

Rice admitted the idea to rent designer clothes is not original; websites like Rent The Runway and Bag Borrow or Steal have existed for years.

But the fact that Borrow My Boutique is brick and mortar, Rice said, makes it unique.

Dress size and fit can be subjective, and Rice believes that allowing people to actually try dresses on before they rent gives the store an advantage.

Part of the reason the two women, who met while working at Colby College in Waterville, went into business in Brunswick is because it’s centrally located between Augusta and Portland, Rice said.

“I can see people driving here” to try on our dresses, she said.

Rice said about 30 people showed up for a grand opening Oct. 17, and liked what they saw.

“There’s been an overwhelming response to that Gucci bag over there,” she said, pointing to a leather and canvas tote hanging from a wall.

Rice, who formerly worked in communications at Colby, said her career transition into entrepreneurship “isn’t scary.”

“I think the concept of this is really going to take off,” she said. “I really believe in the idea.”

Glenn DeMay and Rice are having a ribbon-cutting event Thursday evening, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m.

For those who want something nice to wear to it, the store is already open for business.

Walter Wuthmann can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or Follow Walter on Twitter: @wwuthmann.

Borrow My Boutique co-owner Stacey Rice shows off a designer bag at the Brunswick store.

Designer dresses available for sale or rent at Borrow My Boutique in Brunswick.

Brunswick/Harpswell reporter for The Forecaster. Bowdoin College grad, San Francisco Bay Area native. Follow for municipal, school, community, and environmental news from the Midcoast.