Boutique collects variety of tastes
SANGER — Rebecca Lawler wants her business to be known as a boutique for everyone.
“I want us to have a reputation of [customers] going in there and finding anything from handmade to store-bought to candy to vintage so that we have something for everybody,” says Lawler, the new owner of the downtown shop formerly known as Jangles & Co.
Le Bleu Bonnet Boutique is aptly named for that purpose, blending the Texas state flower, Sanger heritage and French inspirations for interior design and retail. Most of the products Lawler sells are locally made or manufactured, and every booth has something Texas themed.
Though it’s her first time to own a boutique, Lawler considers herself successful so far with her new venture. She recruited soapmaker Tracy Hinton — whose handmade soaps are sold in country star Miranda Lambert’s store in Tishomingo, Oklahoma — to design a line of soaps, scrubs and lotions for her boutique. Le Bleu Bonnet’s branded line is designed for men and women and includes scents with names like Red Wine, He’s a Natural (Men) and Country Girl.
Other local lines Lawler boasts at her store are Juice Mobile Power (her own personal line from Denton), Lavender Ridge Farms from Gainesville and Farmhouse Fresh from Frisco.
Le Bleu Bonnet Boutique is a little different from a regular boutique store. The store operates like a mini mall, hosting more than a dozen vendors at a single storefront.
“I’m super careful not to get vendors that overlap each other. I want people to have a big variety,” Lawler said. “I want to speak to a big audience, and we only have so much space.”
Le Bleu Bonnet has also added a tea room for private parties, including birthdays, wedding showers and baby showers, a concept Lawler came up with when she bought the shop.
She’s also recruited art instructors from local schools and the community to offer programs in the tea room, including Beat the Boredom of Summer art camp this month for youths ages 7 to 14. The camp starts Monday, with four sessions available for two age groups.
“Then in the fall, we have all kinds of great stuff planned for ladies’ nights and ‘sip and see’ and ‘sip and shop’ and crafting classes and all kinds of fun stuff,” Lawler said.
She was able to transform this space into her vision in a matter of weeks, Lawler said. The previous owner announced she was selling the business in late April, and three days later Lawler and her husband decided to buy it. After renovating and obtaining the right permits, Le Bleu Bonnet opened just a month later on May 27.
“I love the walls and the building, but being from California 30 years ago, there was that boutique-y side of me,” Lawler said of the space. “It’s a little bit country and a little bit French so I can have my tea room and the stuff that I love, and this feeling of country and heritage and Sanger is so real and alive in here, and I love that.”
The booth concept allows a number of local entrepreneurs to operate in the same space.
“A lot of people don’t realize that retail provides 1 in 5 jobs in [Texas] communities,” said Ronnie Volkening, president of the Texas Retailers Association. “Their presence brings a sense of community to the area and taxes that support local government. Being a bricks-and-mortar store, they have a physical presence in that they live [in] and support the community.
“Also, because it’s a unique store concept, it can give a unique flavor and sense of identity to Sanger and surrounding communities,” Volkening said.
Le Bleu Bonnet has a few vendors from Denton, “but we’re all pretty much localites and small-town girls and really enjoy that,” Lawler said.
She was able to maintain a lot of the vendors who had previously occupied Jangles & Co., while making new additions.
“[These are the] most talented people in this building I’ve ever seen in my life,” Lawler said. “There’s so much talent under this roof and just [such a] vision for finding things and turning them into treasures.”
One of the vendors Lawler is excited to continue working with is Karen Wilson with the Courthouse Collection on Denton’s Square. Wilson had a booth under the previous ownership and decided to stay on with the Lawlers.
“Sanger is up-and-coming, and the people who live up there, or even further north, may not get a chance to come all the way to Denton,” Wilson said. “When you need a gift and you live up there, you don’t always have an extra 15 minutes to drive down here and shop, and it turns into an hour-and-a-half trip.”
Her booth, also called Courthouse Collection, is a condensed version of her store, at 200 square feet instead of the 3,000 she has across from the Courthouse on the Square in Denton. At Le Bleu Bonnet, the Courthouse Collections space offers a ladies’ boutique, as well as a kitchen and gourmet store in the back, complete with coffee beans.
“We’re not just geared for a woman, and we have things for all ages like jewelry and candles,” Wilson said.
Linda Thaten and her daughter Mindy Coin, who co-owns Texas Smoke BBQ Co., run In Cahoots in another booth space. When the Thatens sold their building off Interstate 35 and the Coins moved Texas Smoke BBQ Co. to the Sanger square, Thaten quickly joined the slate of Le Bleu Bonnet vendors.
“It’s wonderful having her and her kids’ barbecue place just down the street,” Lawler said.
Joseph Iliff, the city’s director of development services, said downtown Sanger’s new retailers have brought businesses to storefronts that were previously closed.
“Having them downtown helps keep a balance so we have a fair number of offices, retail and restaurants,” he said. “We don’t want downtown to have too much of any one of them.”
Le Bleu Bonnet will celebrate its grand opening at 5 p.m. Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony as well as wine and beer, drinks and live entertainment on the back patio.
Big Momma’s Catfish and Pies will cater the event, and a few vendors will be giving away free samples. The music will be performed by Lawler’s daughter Laurynn Grimes and son-in-law Jeremy Sparks.
Vendors at Le Bleu Bonnet Boutique, 302 Bolivar St. in Sanger, include:
* Afterthought Market, Jennifer Aglio and Cindy Gordon
* Art by Amy, Amy Watkins
* At Omee’s House, Kitty Thomas
* Burlap and Barbed Wire, Rachel Wiedeke and Jennifer Esquivel
* Courthouse Collection, Karen Wilson
* Chuckie Collects, Charles McClean
* Cross My Heart, Kym Teeters
* Home Decor and More, Olivia McClean and Hallie Springer
* In Cahoots, Linda Thaten and Mindy Coin
* J’Ma’s Junktiques, Patsy Kern and Jonnie Roach
* Lawn Jewelry, Ann Gibson
* Paint’d Pretties, Jeannie Pryor
* Sisters Gone Crazy, Kim Henning
* Two Hearts, Amanda Williams
* S&J Custom Creation woodworking, Sharon and Jay Dickenson