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Duluth clothing boutique plans move to Old Downtown

Fig Leaf's women's clothing boutique is moving from Canal Park into the vacant storefront at 205 E. Superior St. in the Temple Opera Block building. The store is scheduled to open by May 1. (Clint Austin / / 3
A sign in a storefront in Old Downtown announces the future opening of Fig Leaf's at the site. (Clint Austin / / 3
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After Blue Lake Gallery closes Feb. 24, owner Laura Goewey planned to move her other business, Fig Leaf's clothing boutique, to smaller space next door.

The two businesses have shared a storefront at 395 S. Lake Ave. in Canal Park for nine years.

But scratch those plans.

She's instead moving the boutique to Old Downtown, to a storefront in the Temple Opera Block building that's been vacant since Vintage Duluth closed a couple of years ago. It's a section of downtown that the city and business owners are trying to revitalize.

"I am just thrilled," Goewey said of the site at 205 E. Superior St. "I have loved that space for a long time."

Her previous plans to move to space off Father Time Antiques' main showroom fell through when the store owners changed their minds a month ago, Goewey said.

She had inquired casually about the Temple Opera site about eight months ago and immediately thought about it again when her plans changed.

The store still was available. So she moved quickly, signing a two-year lease, getting it for a fraction of what she's been paying in Canal Park.

She loved that it was a historic building. She liked the brick walls, the big windows, the black-and-white checkerboard floor and the two old safes in the wall.

Goewey always had wanted to show old black-and-white movies, with the actresses wearing gorgeous clothes, on the wall of her store.

"I finally can do it," she said. "I have a beautiful wall for it."

The experience shows that sometimes things just work out for the best, Goewey said. Moving next door to her Canal Park store would have been the easy thing to do but not the right thing for her.

"I absolutely love Old Downtown," she said. "There's so many independent, hip, trendy stores there, and I know just about everybody. It'll be a nice neighborhood to be in. I'm excited about the growth that's happening in Old Downtown. It's pretty awesome."

Her neighbors will include Zeitgeist Arts, Lake Superior Art Glass, Downtown Computer, Tycoons Alehouse, the coming Duluth Trading Co. and the NorShor Theatre, which soon will be restored.

Penny Perry, owner of Perry Framing across the street, had encouraged Goewey to move there.

"I did all I could to make it happen," she said. "It's a perfect fit, a good place for a business. Everybody (on the block) is excited."

Tami LaPole Edmunds, co-owner of the two nearby Art in the Alley stores, certainly is.

"I'm just thrilled to have more businesses on this block," she said. "More businesses mean more people."

Moreover, she said a business is making a big statement when it moves from Canal Park to downtown.

"It just means we're heading in the right direction," she said of downtown.

Goewey's new storefront is 1,350 square feet, bigger than the 900 square feet her boutique currently occupies and bigger than the 800 square feet she was going to move into.

She plans to spend March getting the new store ready. She'll travel to apparel markets in early April to boost the store's offerings for women in their 30s to 60s. And she'll open for business in mid- to late April.