When Sandy Herle opened Close to You Fashions nearly 30 years ago she was just a bike mechanic opening a bra store. Since then she’s served a term as Parksville’s mayor (2005-2008), volunteered on boards and business associations, and expanded her little lingerie store to a one-stop-shop.
“We’re like a mini department store,” Herle says. “Our goal is to dress women who are a little bit missed in the market. You go shopping other places and see clothes for your daughter or clothes for your mother, and there’s nothing in between.”
That’s where Close to You comes in. The experienced staff do their best to offer customers “the whole package.” They’ll help you find clothes that flatter your figure and suggest jeans, bras or control garments that help complete the look. The store carries swimwear and cover-ups, accessories including jewellery, purses and belts, and fun, fashionable footwear.
“Our sandals are coming in by the bucketload right now!”
The aim is to dress women from head to toe. And men? “We’ll dress part of them,” Herle jokes, referencing the store’s quality selection of men’s socks and underwear. “After a woman’s bought a whole outfit for herself, she’ll buy a little something for her fella.”
Helping customers near and far
Close to You’s unique selection and great service attracts repeat clients across Vancouver Island and tourists who look forward to coming back year after year. That’s one of the reasons they launched an e-commerce site in 2019, so fans from afar can keep up with Herle’s latest offerings.
The store hosts fashion shows and trunk shows where shoppers see clothes on models of a “realistic size range” while enjoying wine and goodies. Herle and her 13 staff also represent a broad age range, so there’s always someone in store to help you find the perfect fit.
“Some customers know exactly what they want, but often women will come in with just a vague idea of what they need,” Herle says. “We’ll put them into things that they would never think of trying themselves. We show them that they really can wear other colours or styles.”
That guidance goes for men too — if you’re hoping to surprise your sweetheart with new clothes or lingerie, Herle has lots of advice online and in-store. She suggests peeking at the label on your partner’s clothing to learn her size, but staff can also look up past purchases in-store to help find the perfect fit.
Visit Close to You Monday to Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and from noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays at 174 Corfield St across the parking lot from Thrifty Foods.