The plan didn’t call for Allyson Bridges to open her own boutique, at least if you ask her.
She was 24, a year into paying a mortgage and worked delivering flowers for her grandmother’s Gloucester Main Street florist shop.
But an offhanded reference to a friend at the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust about Gloucester lacking a store for younger women to shop evolved into Up South, a ladies apparel, fashion, jewelry, shoes, handbags and gift shop at 6628 Main Street.
Her mother and aunt, both business-savvy, helped secure the loan and provided plenty of guidance.
Fittingly, Up South is next door to that flower shop and in the same space as the former Buttons and Bows children’s shop, both of which were previously owned by Jean Smith, Bridges’ grandmother.
“I jumped in feet first and we closed the children’s shop in October or November and Up South opened in April,” Bridges said. “A lot of hands were involved in a lot of aspects of it, and it all lined up.”
A grant from the Gloucester Main Street Preservation Trust helped update the building, with Bridges’ father, brother and uncle completing the labor for new floors and dressing rooms.
Locals love Up South, which also draws from Mathews County and Middlesex in addition to folks strolling through Gloucester Village.
Bridges handpicks everything in the store. She’s persnickety about the quality and mindful of price point. Up South is not brand-driven, though does rely on Capri Blue for fragrances and recently added Katie Loxton pouches.
“We’re unique,” Bridges said. “This isn’t stuff you’re going to find at T.J. Maxx or a big box store.”
The Gloucester native prefers to showcase finds that best fit the community where she’s grown up. Her customer base ranges from high school age to senior citizens.
“My biggest customers are young professionals looking for something suitable to wear to work and maybe a cool and dressy top to wear out to dinner on the weekends,” she said. “Everything in here is what I would consider timeless.”
You’ll also find handmade river art and pottery by local artisans for sale.
When she’s not in the store, Bridges loves a day on the water with her husband, Chad, and 5-year-old son, Burke.
Fittingly, the store’s logo is a compass. Once you go in, you’ll always find a reason to come back to Up South.
Up South is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays.