Lockdown gives rise to new Wilton store

WILTON — While many businesses were at risk of closing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it gave rise to at least one new enterprise in Wilton Center.

Champagne Taste, a women’s clothing and accessories store, opened June 2 at 5 River Road, across the way from Starbuck’s.

The brightly lit shop is owned and run by Andrea McLaughlin, a Wilton resident and veteran of the retail business.

McLaughlin, who began her career as a designer in New York City, eventually opened a retail business in Greenwich where she sold women’s swimwear and resort wear for 24 years. She also had shops in Rye and Scarsdale, N.Y., all of which she sold in 2013.

“I’ve spent the last seven years doing volunteer work,” she said last week, but I always had it in the back of my mind that I wanted a small shop close to home.”

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She started thinking seriously about it in January and then the quarantine hit. With time on her hands, McLaughlin saw the pieces begin to fall into place as she built a website and started buying clothing. A turnkey site opened up and she took the plunge.

Because of her past experience in the fashion industry, McLaughlin has relationships with manufacturers and factories.

“Rather than source my clothing from showrooms, I buy directly from the manufacturers, which allows me to sell my clothing for less-than-suggested retail,” she said.

She described her mix of merchandise as “cute, casual and well- priced and I always look for styles that are different, on trend, and fit and flatter a variety of figures.”

“I think it’s a great niche,” she said. Most of the factories she buys from are on the West Coast, and some of the clothing is made in the U.S. Sizes run small, medium and large.

“I try to get natural and sustainable fibers like linen, bamboo and cotton as well as synthetics,” she said.

Believing she knows who her customers are — ranging from young to older women with average figures — and how they like to dress, she said “I buy things that appeal to me.” She asks herself, “Is it my taste level? Is it new and interesting? Is it fashionable and does it fit well?” McLaughlin said she does not like anything too tight.

“I look for cute things that fit and flatter,” she said, adding she’s always on the lookout for trends, but “not too trendy, not too far out.”

Hot items right now are shorts with a paper-bag waist and pants with the same waist but with a jogger (elastic) bottom.

“Florals are in, and vintage florals, which I love,” she said. French provincial-inspired prints, digital prints and eyelet cotton are all on her racks.

“Apricot is a trending color this year,” she said, holding up a T-shirt of that color. “People are loving this T-shirt,” she said.

“Navy is the new neutral for this summer,” she continued, which pairs well with cornflower and periwinkle blues and dusty pink

There are also accessories to complement the fashions including handbags, scarves, and jewelry, as well as soaps, candles and other gift items. Along the walls are acrylic paintings McLaughlin executed during the lockdown, which are also for sale.

Customers may shop in the store Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or online at ChampagneTaste.shop, which has free shipping and easy returns.

Information: 203-210-7212.