Texas Transplant Opens Stylish Clothing Boutique

By Patrick Butler

Like New Jersey transplant, Craig Fass, Cheryl Malizewski didn’t start out expecting to run a neighborhood business in Northcenter.

The Texas-born Malizewski opened her women’s clothing shop at 4357 N. Lincoln Ave., after a few years working for pharmaceutical sales before deciding “I wanted to build something for myself,” be part of a community, and work with an established chain of franchises able to provide the needed professional guidance.

Enter Mainstream Boutique with its nationwide chain of 70 stores emphasizing stylish “middle-of-the road” duds for the young moms and professional women who seem to have become Malizewski’s biggest audience.

Her biggest challenge was getting potential customers to not be intimidated by the word “boutique.”

Local Realtor Barbara O’Connor looks through the merchandise during her first visit to the Mainstream Boutique, 4357 N. Lincoln Ave. “I’ve passed it all the time, but I knew it would be deadly if I came in here. I think I have more stuff waiting at the front than anybody,” she said. Photo by Patrick Butler

“To many, boutique means great service and unusual items – for a hefty price,” she said, promising her clients won’t get either sticker shock or a lot of outdated fashions on the racks.

While the clothing industry can be fickle, Malizewski avoids having to hold many half-price sales by staying abreast of current trends, which this season include slightly-distressed jeans and generally more comfortable clothes wearable at work or socializing.

“Our concept is to keep costs down, while giving our customers the boutique experience,” Malizewski noted. She listens to the women who turn up at the private parties at her store.

 “Like Tupperware parties or girls nights out, a host will organize an event and invite her friends to come,” Malizewski explained. 

And there are in-house events like the recent party for Dreamtown real estate agents like Barbara O’Connor. O’Connor said she passed the Mainstream Boutique often, but never came in before.

 “I knew it would be deadly if I came in here.  I think I have more stuff waiting at the front than anyone,” O’Connor said.

But Malizewski’s outreach doesn’t stop there.

A group of local Realtors look over the offerings at Mainstream Boutique during a recent special showing. Photo by Patrick Butler

“We’ll also do offsite events. We do lots of carnivals, ribfests, things like the Square Roots festival (in Welles Park), so we can get out and meet new people,” said Malizewski, who does the buying for the store after talking to everyone from customers to fashion leaders.

So where does she hope to be five or 10 years from now?

Facing new challenges, Malizewski said. “Outgrowing our space would be a great problem I’d love to have.”

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