Sidney’s Cottons and Blues in a transition

BUSINESS PROFILES 2017: Nothing as liberating as being debt-free

The Peninsula News Review’s Business Profiles edition hits the streets on Nov. 8. This one of four stories coming out this week from that special publication.

There’s a saying about something old being new again … and it can apply to Sidney business Cottons and Blues in a couple different ways.

First, cotton shirts and jeans never really do go out of style and that’s one of the clothing store’s main stocks in trade — ever since Kathy Clarke started the business back in the 1970s. Although back then, it was known to its customers as Denim Disco.

Re-branded in 1979 as Cottons and Blues, Clarke continued to grow her business, adapting to the various clothing trends but at the same time, sticking to what she knows best and what her customers demanded — natural fabrics, like cotton.

“You always need to have a variety of items to serve a variety of age groups,” she said.

One of the biggest challenges lately, she continued, is sourcing those natural fabrics, saying cotton is hard to find as more clothing manufacturers turn to alternatives, such as bamboo.

Second, on the old is new again angle, is the fact that Clarke is retiring this fall — and the business is being taken over by new owner Anna Savage, who has worked with Clarke for the last five yards as a partner.

Clarke said she’s had a retirement plan for years and wanted to put in place by the time she turns 60. And while she’s right on schedule with those plans, she said she’s not planning on going anywhere, as Sidney is her home.

“That’s good, ‘cause Kathy is helping us out at Christmas still,” quipped Savage, noting that time of year is still very busy for Cottons and Blues.

“We ave a very loyal following.”

Clarke added 2017 has been a very good year for the business, with lots of customer traffic. It has set the stage for a positive transition this year. And it’ll mean she and husband Garry will be on track to start their travels.

Clarke said she will miss her long-time customers and she would tell anyone getting into business these days to do as she did — and not over extend themselves.

“Pay your bills, sooner than later,” she said, adding there’s nothing quite as liberating — personally and professionally — as being debt-free.