When it comes to what makes Lowell special, its boutiques rank alongside the breweries and antique shops as major draws for visitors. The downtown has gone through something of a renaissance in recent years with several shops now bringing the latest fashions to their storefronts on Main Street.
Tap House Bo is one of those shops.
“The name comes from our love of boutiques and breweries,” says owner Martha Davis. Not only has Davis created a shop that brings Parisian fashion to Lowell, but she is also working hard to promote businesses throughout the community. That has meant creating special events with other merchants, consigning the goods of smaller businesses and developing partnerships with area brewers.
Finding the Perfect Spot
You can find Tap House Bo at 218 E. Main Street in what was formerly the Lowell State Bank. The historic building offers a special ambiance for shoppers who can even try on clothes in the old walk-in safe.
However, Davis didn’t start her business here. “We started out selling at home shows,” she explains. Then, she tried out online shows but discovered that with fashion, seeing is believing. “We found people wanted to try things on and touch and feel [the fabric],” she says.
So Davis decided it was time to set up shop. She found a tiny storefront in a building over the river. She stayed there for about five months before moving into the back room at Red Barn Consignment and Antiques for a year. “They were wonderful to us,” Davis says of the arrangement.
When the former Lowell State Bank building opened – on the corner of Main Street and S. Monroe – Davis saw her chance to have a dedicated space for her business. While she continues to set up pop-up boutiques at events elsewhere in the region, the Lowell storefront serves as her base of operations.
Forget Your Boutique Stereotypes
As a boutique, Tap House Bo may is understandably associated with women’s clothing. Certainly, it is a central part of the business. However, there is much more to be found within the store. There is also men’s clothing, shoes, saltwater taffy, ceramics, journals, jewelry and more.
There may also be a perception by some that boutique clothing comes in limited sizes at high prices, that’s not the case at Tap House Bo. Davis sources her clothing lines from all over the world and takes care to diversify what she offers.
Women’s clothing lines include pieces from petite to plus sizes and come at a variety of price points. Clothes sell for anywhere from $20 to $100. “That kinda shocks people,” Davis says. “Shopping in a boutique doesn’t have to be expensive. I want anyone with any budget to come in and be able to purchase [something].”
While the prices at Tap House Bo are accessible, the atmosphere leans toward upscale. Featuring Parisian music and décor, the store provides a shopping experience that feels special. In a Tea Room at the rear of the building, there are tables and New Union Brewery root beer on tap. Davis is also excited about a new partnership to offer Ferris Coffee and Nuts that will bring their products into the store as well.
Relationships Make Lowell Special
Davis lives outside Lowell, but she has found a community among Main Street business owners. “People are awesome here,” she says.
It is with those people that she has forged relationships that have helped spur economic development in the city. “I love making partnerships,” Davis says. So, for instance, when she noticed the post-holiday period was slow for many businesses, she rallied downtown merchants to hold a January Wine About Winter, February Chocolate Stroll and other events.
For Davis, the beautiful thing about being in business in Lowell is the opportunity to help so many other people. From providing shelf space to local artisans to hosting fundraisers for youth organizations to helping customers find the perfect outfit, Tap House Bo has its eye on how to support the larger community as well as its customers.
“Part of what I’ve always wanted is to give back,” Davis says. And with Tap House Bo, she seems to be doing just that.