Natalie Salamone loves wearing fresh fashions. She also loves saving money. The combination of these sentiments often left her in quite a quandary.
"I have two small children in Catholic school, so I'm cutting back wherever I can," said Salamone, a resident of East Allen Township. "But it's really hard to go back to average jeans after you've worn a pair of designer. They're just softer and stretchier, and accentuate all the right areas."
By shopping online for gently used (and cheaper) designer jeans, Salamone was able to have her cake and eat it, too. She quickly found herself wondering though, "Who wore these jeans before me?" The question ultimately inspired Salamone to share the denim discoveries with other women through the launching of her online store, Behind the Seam, three weeks ago.
The business sells pre-worn designer jeans (about 60 percent off retail) that Salamone acquires from friends, acquaintances and sellers on Craigslist. The twist: Each pair comes with a short story (tucked in the back pocket) about something that happened to the jeans' original owner while wearing the garment.
"It's kind of like the movie 'Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,'" Salamone explains. "Some of the stories are funny. Others are touching. Some, like a woman who wore her jeans to the White House, are historical."
Behind the Seam's pre-worn denims, once only available online, can now be purchased at Girlfriends Boutique in Bethlehem's Main Street Commons.
"I realized a lot of people want to see the jeans in person and try them on," Salamone said. "I hope to sell them at other Lehigh Valley locations as well."
The gently used jeans, which range in price from $25 to $50, include noteworthy brands such as Citizens of Humanity, Paper Denim & Cloth, Antik Denim, Lucky Brand and 7 For All Mankind. According to Salamone, the recycling of the textiles is also good for the environment.
"It's a great way to save money while saving the planet," said Salamone, an instructional support teacher in the Easton Area School District. "Jeans are very sustainable, and shouldn't be sitting in landfills."
Another new development at Girlfriends Boutique is its recent merger with The Pepper Spray Store. The pepper spray retailer, which opened on the lower level of the Main Street Commons in November 2011, relocated upstairs into Girlfriends about two weeks ago.
"This is a great move for us as Girlfriends and The Pepper Spray Store have the same target audience," Pepper Spray Store co-owner Nelson Lauver says. "We're already selling more pepper spray than we did at our old store."
According to Lauver, the business' old space will be used as an office until the lease runs out in October.
Yet another recent happening in the Main Street Commons is the expansion of Aardvark Sports Shop. The company, which specializes in running and walking gear, opened Aardvark Annex across the hall from its main store (next to Girlfriends Boutique) in April. The space was occupied by a multitude of businesses in the past, including Tangerine gift shop.
"We're using the annex for seminars, workshops and various classes geared toward runners, including yoga and pilates," Aardvark owner Bruce Haines said. "We also meet here for group runs."
To register for a class, see http://www.aardvarksportshop.com.
At this time next year, Musikfest attendees will have another venue to enjoy a cold brew.
Thanks to my colleague Nicole Radzievich", I learned that Bethlehem City Council approved a liquor license transfer from a former Northampton bar Tuesday that will pave the way for Granny McCarthy's Tea Room to expand and include an upstairs Irish bar at 534 Main St.
Consultant Howard Lieberman told council that owner Neville Gardner has plans for additional seating on the second floor and an elevator. The improvements will cost about $1 million.
"We're still in the planning stages, but it's possible that we could have a soft opening in time for Celtic Classic in the fall," Gardner said.