Retail Tipsheet: Longtime Bellingham clothing store soon will be under new local ownership

For more than three decades, Susan Sandell has brought a little fun and friendliness to the women’s clothing business. Soon she will be passing that on to a new owner.

Sandell is retiring and has sold her business, Sandell’s For Her, to Dee Dee Bell. The final day for Sandell at the business is Thursday, April 30. Bell will take over on May 1, keeping the staff and most of the same clothing lines. She will change the business name to Statement Apparel.

Bell is a longtime acquaintance of Sandell and has an extensive retail background, including owning her own store in Denver in the early 1990s before moving to Bellingham in 1994. Keeping with the store’s tradition of being involved with the community, Bell plans on doing events that support Whatcom Hospice.

Sandell started 33 years ago, working at a store called Keren’s in Meridian Village. She and her husband, Deane, bought the shop in 1989 and changed the name. By 1997 she was one of the first tenants at Barkley Village, the store’s current location.

While fashions changed over the years, Sandell said she always wanted to strike a fun and friendly tone for her employees and customers. It grew to a point where customers would regularly stop in just to say hello, even if they weren’t planning to buy anything.

“That’s something I will miss the most,” Sandell said. “I love hearing about all the vacations and family life of my customers. I’ve had lots of hugs the past week.”

Over the years. the questions from customers have been similar, usually asking for advice on what works as an outfit.

“We are dead honest,” Sandell said when it comes to how clothes look on a person, adding that her store takes such requests seriously because the outfit also reflects on the business.

Sandell learned that she had better have a good selection of warm-weather clothes in the winter, because many of her customers would come in looking for something in preparation for a vacation to warmer climates.

The best advice Sandell can offer small-business owners is to hire good workers, don’t rely too much on the Canadian dollar, and think about what customers want when buying product.

“The biggest pleasure was actually dressing someone and making it work,” Sandell said.

Sandell will be at the store through the end of the month, but a public get-together will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, April 17. For details about the store, call 360-734-9595.

On Wednesday, April 1, Monica Padilla became the owner of Little Bugs Children’s Consignment Store at 2400 Yew St. Padilla is a familiar face to customers and consignors; she’s worked at the store for the past 10 years.

Padilla plans to make some basic improvements to the store, including new flooring and changing rooms. She’s also closing the store on Sundays. The new store hours will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

She said sales at the store have been very consistent in recent years. While the focus is on spring/summer clothing right now, the store will start accepting consignment clothes for back to school on July 1.

For details about the store, visit

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