by Jill Forman
The parades used to go by Karen Abel’s store on Main Street in Midtown. Though the parade route changed about ten years ago, the parade of friends and customers has continued for thirty years.
Karen was brought up in a clothing store that her mother owned, and she duplicated that by raising her daughters Grace and Melissa at Wear It Again Sam, 1978 Main Street. Her older daughter was five months old when the store opened. “We ran the store together,” she says with a laugh. Before she had the store, she was in the restaurant industry as a chef.
Though commuting from Camarillo, her girls went to St. Paul’s so the store’s patrons watched them grow up. Some of the consignees have been coming for over 20 years.
Where did she get the name? “It’s catchy, a play on the line from Casablanca.” Thirties nostalgia was big when she opened, she has a vintage-type feel to the décor, and originally stocked vintage-style clothes along with business and dressy attire. She used to collect autographed movie star photos, and that movie influence showed in her name selection. Her store only carries women’s clothes, so she could make sure to have a good selection.
She speaks positively of the changes she has seen in the city. “Downtown has been beautified with theaters and restaurants and trees.” She remembers when downtown Main Street was lined with antique stores, and people from all over would come to shop for treasures.
In her immediate area, there are now four consignment stores and several thrift stores; a great area for someone to shop!
Karen will miss Ventura – “gorgeous views, good landlord, friendly people, and ocean air” – but is looking forward to the next stage of her life. She is moving to Northern California where her fiancé lives, not knowing what will happen up there and what career path she might take.
She does not plan on opening another clothing store, though taking pride in what she has accomplished in Ventura. “I’ve loved being here and people have been very supportive of my business. I feel I’ve contributed to my community by offering a good product at reasonable prices, especially for working women.”
Everything in the store is on sale. Call for hours since Karen will be packing, moving and getting ready to change her life. 643-3989
The contentment she has found here shows in her words, “Ventura is a lovely place.”