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Updated: June 10, 2024

Clothing store relocates to ‘cutest retail space in Freeport’

The seller and buyer of Gingham stand together. Photo / Courtesy Gingham Caitlin Reiche, right, bought the business, called Gingham, from Heather Veitch.

A 1,090-square-foot retail building in Freeport proved the perfect location for a “curated" women’s clothing store that opened May 10.

Caitlin and Sam Reiche bought 25 Bow St. from McLellan Abbott LLC for $315,000. Mackenzie Simpson at Porta & Co. represented both sides in the transaction. The property will be home to a women’s clothing business called Gingham, which had been in Yarmouth. (The business has also changed hands.) 

The Freeport property's seller was a family that ran a home goods store, Bow Street Home, said Simpson. 

“They were based in Hawaii, but were from Maine,” he said. “They had local managers and ran it for two or three years but found it was a little too difficult to run from Hawaii.”

The property was on the market less than a day.

“The Reiches knew that it was about to come on the market, so I reached out to them because a colleague said they were interested in purchasing a small store in Freeport,” he said.

The property is in great condition, he added.

The store

The Reiches bought Gingham’s business assets and will reestablish it at 25 Bow St.

Gingham was established in Yarmouth by Heather Veitch, who opened Gingham in July 2016. 

“When I was trying to come up with a name, I wanted to capture the idea of something that was quintessentially New England and playful and friendly,” said Veitch. “One of my goals in opening the store was to curate clothing that women in Maine and anywhere could wear every day but felt special. To me, the name Gingham felt like picnics and family gatherings.”

Veitch originally opened Gingham at 90 Main St. in Yarmouth and eventually moved it to 359 Main St.

The inside of Gingham shows racks full of clothes.
Photo / Courtesy Gingham
Gingham’s buyer liked seeing many of her favorite brands in a comfortable environment.

“I really wanted to start a business for locals, where I would get to know customers coming in to the shop,” she said.

The buyer

Caitlin Reiche is coming to retail from a 14-year career in health care technology, working remotely in Freeport as chief commercial officer for a health care data company.

“It’s been a wonderful career,” she said. “But I’m very excited for something different.”

About five years ago, Reiche discovered Gingham when she was driving down Main Street in Yarmouth. 

“I saw the store and popped in and Heather was carrying a lot of my favorite brands,” she said. “Mostly I liked the comfort of it. I don’t like high-pressure shopping experiences.”

Gingham became Reiche’s go-to store.

A white store was listed and sold by Porta & Co.
Photo / Courtesy Porta & Co.
A small 1,090-square-foot retail building in Freeport, seen here before it sold, proved the perfect location for a curated women’s clothing store.

“Heather would reach out to me when something new came in,” she said. “I appreciated that personalized and local shopping experience. So I’d always check Gingham first if I needed something.”

When Veitch learned that her landlord would be selling the unit the store was in, she looked around at other locations and even other towns. She couldn’t find a space that suited the vibe she was after.

“I feel like my shop had a specific vibe and a specific feeling,” Veitch said. “All the places I looked at didn’t have that same feeling.”

So Veitch decided to retire from the business. 

“She posted on Instagram that she decided to close the store,” said Reiche. “It was emotional. My husband said, ‘You must really love this place.’”

In short order, Reiche decided to look into buying the business assets and setting up her own shop.

“I reached out to Heather and asked if she’d consider selling the business,” Reiche recalled. “She said yes. We met and things took off from there.”

Veitch and Reiche had numerous discussions and went on a buying to trip to New York City. Reiche acquired Gingham’s name, customer list, vendor relationships, inventory and fixtures.

A new location

“In the meantime, I was thinking, Where am I going to put this store?” Reiche said. “A brand-new space didn’t feel like Gingham.”

The family that bought 25 Bow St. in Freeport stands outside the store
Photo / Courtesy Gingham
Caitlin and Sam Reiche, seen here with their children, bought 25 Bow St. in Freeport just as it came on the market.

She knew she wanted to be in her hometown of Freeport, but initially couldn’t find a suitable retail space. Then a friend mentioned that 25 Bow St. would soon be available. 

“I knew that building,” she said. “It’s a super-charming space. One of the women at Visit Freeport emailed me and said, ‘Congratulations on being in the cutest retail space in Freeport.’”

The real estate purchase was financed with cash and a loan from Gorham Savings Bank.

After the deal closed, Reiche obtained fit-up grants from the town of Freeport to help with electrical work, painting and generally getting the space updated. 

The Freeport business Fit-Up grant program offers matching grants for projects that redevelop, restore, renovate or reconfigure commercial properties in Freeport’s downtown and along U.S. Route 1. 

She has a store manager in place and some of Veitch’s former employees are working at Gingham, as well.  Veitch herself will stay involved, working here and there and helping Reiche with any additional needs.

The personal touch

Reiche said she will also continue to be very involved. 

“I don’t see how a small store like this can be successful without the owner being part of it,” she said. 

Part of the decision is a lifestyle change. With three small children, her former career had her traveling a lot and on calls and at conferences. 

“I miss that personal experience that you just don’t get in a remote workplace. I want to feel part of my community,” she said.

As for Veitch, she’s working with a couple of other women on potentially opening another small business — no word yet on what it will be.

“One of the reasons that I was thrilled to pass the business on to Caitlin is because she really does have a such a wonderful sense of community,” Veitch said. “She has impeccable taste, and I think she’s going to be so successful at the business.”

She continued, “I think that, in this day and age in retail, with the internet and catalogues, the reality is that anyone can buy anything they want online or at a big-box store. But the reason people come to small boutiques is because there’s a sense of community. There’s a sense of, ‘I know this person, and they know me.’ It leaves you feeling happier, like you belong to something bigger than yourself.”

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