Mendy Mitiguy has known she wanted to own her own clothing store since she was in high school.
The Shelburne native worked in retail while attending Rice Memorial High School and continued to do so while majoring in business at St. Michael’s College.
After graduation, she spent a little over a year in Boston working for large retail corporations, as well as with a wardrobe consultant. She also took design classes at LaSalle College.
Returning to Vermont, Mitiguy worked for Tamarack Services which was owned by her parents, doing advertising and marketing for their restaurants and gas stations.
She got married and while raising her three children, she opened Footprints Preschool in Shelburne on Route 7. During that time, she also managed Village Goldsmiths, a jewelry store owned by her parents’ company. It was after attending a clothing show in New York City that she added some contemporary clothing to the store.
“Basically, I rolled my profits back into the business to grow the inventory,” she said, “and I ended up selling the assets of Footprints and closing that business.”
Soon Village Goldsmiths had morphed into a clothing store with incidental jewelry. When the store’s main jeweler left to open his own shop in 2002, Mitiguy rebranded the storefront simply as “Mendy’s.”
In 2005, Mitiguy opened a second store in Stowe but that proved challenging after the stock market crash soon after. She closed the Stowe store in 2009 and opened instead in Middlebury that year. She and her store manager Ashley Arcury split their time between the two stores. The Middlebury location also has two other employees.
Now 47, Mitiguy said she relishes her time at her stores where many customers are like family. “I was always interested in the design element of clothing,” she said. “I like the different fabrics and seeing how people make personal choices which make a statement about who they are.”
Mitiguy and Arcury go to four clothing shows a year to keep up-to-date in their field. “Although design trends are constantly changing, we try to focus on timeless pieces, but we always work with our clients’ preferences,” Mitiguy said. “We let our customers guide us.”
In addition to helping customers at the store, Mitiguy offers a unique service where she visits clients in their homes to help them organize their closets and put outfits together.
“I get to know my customers really well,” she said. “They come back seasonally and we wardrobe them. The nice thing about working with them at the store is they can get an honest opinion and they feel like they are talking to a friend.”
Mitiguy recognizes that younger customers like the convenience of buying online but she hopes they will discover the advantages of shopping in person.
“We provide style feedback and that’s one of the things that helps us beat the internet trends,” she said. “We try to understand our customers. Maybe they come in because of a wedding or graduation but then we can build lasting relationships which will help us thrive in the digital age.”
Mitiguy is grateful for the many returning customers who visit her two locations. “Every business success is attributable to the customers,” she said.