New clothing store to join Main Street

Panora’s Main Street will soon be home to a women’s boutique with a New Orleans flare.

Stacy Benton, who moved with her husband Sam and daughter Keli from West Monroe, Louisiana, to their new home at Lake Panorama about six weeks ago, had always dreamed of owning a clothing store. Over the years, the family spent summers and holidays visiting relatives around Guthrie County, as Sam Benton grew up in Guthrie Center. The decision to turn their visits into a permanent move back to her husband’s roots gave Benton the perfect chance to make her dream of running a boutique come true.

“It’s always been a dream of mine to open a boutique,” Benton said. “Boutiques are really common in Louisiana, and when we were looking to move, they’re not as common here. Turns out this is a really good area to start that, so we’re really excited about it. We just love this area, and just really like the people and the atmosphere, and the small town feel that it has. So it was a prime opportunity for us.”

The store will be a women’s clothing and accessories shop called Bella Sorella, which means beautiful sister in Italian. The name is a tribute to Benton’s fully Italian best friend, Chris Randles, who is like a sister to her.

Inside its doors, the store will channel much of Benton’s person style and background into its design. She is renting the building located at 118 W. Main St. from Rick Jacobsen, who is in the process of transforming the space into a New Orleans inspired look. He tore down the finished walls inside the building, exposing brick to give the space an older appearance. He was also able to salvage the hard wood floors. And Benton said that although work is not done yet, the front of the building will be resurfaced to feature columns or pillars, and wrought iron details.

“I’ve always wanted to renovate this one, I wanted to take it back to this historic look like these old buildings should be,” Jacobsen said of the property that will be home to Benton’s boutique.

Benton added, “(Jacobsen has) done such a wonderful job, it’s just beautiful.”

When it comes to what will be on the racks, Benton said the merchandise will be a combination of what is in style in the area, and her own personal look. The store will be something for everyone, with designs that cater to adult women, and younger women too. Contemporary, edgy and classy, Benton said of the store’s style. She is working with several designers — some from Louisiana — and will head to market in March to pick out the pieces her store will carry. She wants shopping at Bella Sorella to be so comfortable, it feels like going shopping in the closet of a best friend or sister.

“(I) gotta bring what I know,” Benton said. “It’s gonna be casual, but I want it to be kind of edgy, funky, something everyone will like.”

In the beginning Benton will handle every aspect of the shop, from management duties to running the sales floor. All while balancing her job as a project manager for Century Link, which she is able to do from home. Eventually, she will hire another employee to take over the sales aspect of it, so she can focus on being the store’s manager.

Benton plans to have the store open for business by April 8, so long as everything goes smoothly.

“It’s exciting, it’s a little nerve wracking, but I’m excited,” Benton said. “It’s a lot of work that goes into it, that’s for sure. But it will be mine. You put a lot of work into your job and work, then to be able to build something that’s my own is great.”


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Guthrie County Times Vedette
PO Box 38
111 E. Main Street
Panora, IA 50216

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