News / Calgary

Blame Betty not pointing any fingers over store closure

The clothing boutique on 17 Avenue celebrated all body shapes and sizes

Blame Betty, a mainstay of 17th Avenue, has shut their doors after 13 years of outfitting Calgary's rockabilly, punk and retro community.

Autumn Fox / For Metro

Blame Betty, a mainstay of 17th Avenue, has shut their doors after 13 years of outfitting Calgary's rockabilly, punk and retro community.

The old familiar anchor and rose double doors of Blame Betty, a 17th Avenue landmark for 13 years, are closing for good.

In a surprise online announcement on Friday, Dec, 15, the staff and management of the boutique clothing store specializing in rockabilly, punk and retro wear, invited their fanbase – which includes devotees from across the province to around the world – to their "funeral sale" the next day.

Despite their moniker, management chose to end on a positive note, free from blame for the abrupt departure.

"Not for a single moment, is any one thing, or one event, or the city, or construction, or the site rebuild, or the economy to 'blame' for us closing, it’s simply time to move on," said the store's online statement.

The post did acknowledge some of the challenges they had faced over the past few years - from a move in 2015 to a larger storefront at the height of the recession, to the further bad luck of being newly positioned at the epicentre of a 7-month-long revitalization project at the southeast end of 17th Avenue.

"The truth is that nothing lasts forever, despite how much we want them to at times. The last almost 13 years have been such an amazing experience, and everyone here is choosing in every way - to focus on nothing but the positives that this company created for so very many," said the store's statement.

Arguably the first, and some would say only, Calgary clothing store to embrace body positivity and celebrate everybody and every body that walked through those double doors, Blame Betty carried a wide range of styles and sizes in comparison to most traditional clothing stores.

Manhattan Wilde, a maven of the Calgary burlesque community, modelled for the shop, and remembers the experience as life-changing.

"Kati [LeClair, owner of Blame Betty] had approached me on social media to do a bikini model shoot. As a plus-sized girl in a cruel world, not everyone is a-ok with that. But it was one of the most positive experiences of my life."

Understanding that there is a great deal more to everyone than appearances, LeClair not only asked Wilde to model, but also to write a guest post on the Blame Betty blog about her experience.

"It was an opportunity I never would have given myself," said Wilde. "It pushed my boundaries and I found acceptance with my body."

Heartbroken fans of the shop flooded social media with their love and support over the weekend; many sharing stories of their experiences there - from purchasing their wedding or graduation dresses, to celebrating personal victories and treating themselves to a little retail reward after giving birth or reaching a weight loss goal.

"I'm so sad to hear this," said customer Sarah Meads-Sander of the closure. "I've struggled with body issues almost as long as I can remember, and every time I have gone into Blame Betty, whether looking for something or not, I have left with more confidence than ever.

"I just loved how celebratory they were of all women's body types. Everyone is beautiful. We don't hear that often enough," she said.

By Saturday evening, Dec. 16, both the online and brick and mortar stores were shuttered, and while management won't say what the future will hold, their farewell message hints that though these doors have closed, another may be opening elsewhere, encouraging fans to sign up for future email updates.

"We truly do see nothing but brightness ahead."

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