So what possessed Beth Wadle to take over one of the most iconic women's boutiques on the Outer Banks? Career change? Retirement? Adventure?
“All of the above,” says Wadle, the new owner of Miss Lizzie’s, 3720 N. Croatan Hwy., Kitty Hawk. “I’ve spent my whole life looking for what I want to do if I were to own my own business. I’ve had a great time, but never found the right thing.”
That’s not an understatement. Wadle traveled the world as an engineer for 35 years, serving the country until retiring from federal service in 2016. While she loved what she did, she was never the one in charge. Entrepreneurism runs in her family – her parents operated video stores and her grandfather ran an inn in the Poconos. So after she and her husband, Jim LeBlanc, found their “retirement” home in the Outer Banks, she began looking for opportunities.
“I always thought I would own a coffee or ice cream shop, or a bed & breakfast, or go into real estate,” she says. “But when we saw the boutique for sale, we went, ‘That’s it!’”
Turns out Beth had worked in retail clothing at a large department store when she was in high school and college. So the boutique intrigued her.
“I felt that while e-commerce is taking off, there is still something about trying on clothes,” she says. “You need to see it, to touch it, to feel it, to experience it!”
After she visited personally with founder Bobbie Perry and walked through Miss Lizzie’s, she knew it was the right move.
“There is a nostalgia here,” she says. “You know who your clients are, you help them solve their problems. You make people feel good, because when you look good, you feel good.”
Her engineering background will serve her well, as running a store offers “endless puzzles to solve all day long.”
She also will have the support of her husband, though he will continue to run his consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
“He has a really good eye,” she says with a laugh. “I can pick up flowers at the grocery store, but he manages to make them look good in the vase. He’d be great with customers here!”
Most of all, she plans to respect the shop’s legacy, and not “kill what Bobbie built” over 17 years.
“I want to honor the great enterprise she built, and for all the advice and counsel in how to run the business,” Wadle says. “She will stay on to help with the store, but I know she wants to travel, and I wish her luck on her great adventures.”
At the same time, she looks forward to welcoming customers old and new, while putting her own stamp on the style.
“I want to do something that gives back,” she says. “Having fun has to be part of it. Throughout my career I’ve learned that you’ve got to like what you do.”
And that means her customers will like it too. Whether they are permanent or seasonal residents, vacationers, or people who travel here just to shop, Wadle has a mission: Bringing smiles to women's faces and instilling a sense of fun, confidence, and style through their clothes, shoes and accessories.
“We’re very excited to be here! Come in and say hello!”