hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

September 27, 2012

This unique boutique sells furniture -- and fights domestic violence

By Alex Lippa
alippa@hgazette.com

---- — Alan Crosier and Cloie Owens say they are just ordinary business owners — but their plan for a new boutique on River Street is anything but ordinary.

Besides selling clothes, Cloie’s Closet at 104 River St. takes pieces of furniture from estate sales, flea markets and other places and turns them from unwanted pieces to desirable furniture.

“I make them functional and Cloie makes them beautiful,” Crosier said.

Making positives out of negatives is a recurring theme in the store. Both Crosier and Owens, who are not only business partners but partners in life, have been victims of domestic violence. They have pledged to give 10 percent of their proceeds to organizations that fight domestic violence.

“We take old, vintage, beat-up and broken furniture that has been discarded and abandoned in estate sales that have been forgotten about, and we transform them with love,” Owens said. “It is sort of like the evolution of me coming from a very violent background with a lot of domestic abuse going on and making me into a stronger, more confident woman.”

After learning in August that the YWCA would be closing its battered women’s shelter in Lawrence, Crosier and Owens became concerned there would be nowhere for women who have been victims of domestic abuse to get help.

“Our ultimate goal is to have enough locations and raise enough money to open a battered women’s shelter,” Owens said.

Originally, the couple sold their pieces online through a website and at local flea markets. Their furniture became so popular that they decided to go into the business full time, to allow them to spend more time with Owens’ son Chris who has been hospitalized for several months.

“If Chris wasn’t in the hospital, this store would have never opened,” Crosier said. “He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder because he has witnessed both verbal and physical abuse almost his entire life.”

In addition to furniture, the couple is selling clothing such as shoes, club wear and lingerie designed to make women feel empowered.

“We want to make women feel beautiful both inside and out,” Crosier said.

The couple said they designed the store based on boutiques that can be found on Newbury Street in Boston.

“What we are shooting for here is a Boston boutique at Haverhill prices,” Crosier said.

Crosier made up the word “cutiques” to describe the antiques that have been transformed into furniture and accessories that can be used in a new generation.

“We don’t sell used furniture,” Crosier said. “We sell new pieces that have been designed for our specific customers.”

Crosier showed an example of a gun cabinet which he picked up at a yard sale for $10. After the couple reconditioned it in their own style, it was turned into a jewelry cabinet. The cabinet, like many pieces in the store, is painted purple — the color that represents the fight against domestic violence.

“We’re just regular business people,” Crosier said. “We just believe that since it (domestic violence) really affects us this much and we have the opportunity by having a business and growing a business, that we can help other people and ultimately open up our own shelter.’’

Cloie’s Place will host a fundraiser on Sept. 30 put on by Girls Inc. of Greater Haverhill and Greater Haverhill’s League of Women’s voters. At the event, for $15 girls will get to sample designer clothes.