Bamboo apparel shop heads to Main Street (Annapolis, MD)

Capital Gazette on March 4, 2013

A retailer specializing in bamboo clothing with Caribbean and Hawaiian flair is coming to downtown Annapolis.

Cariloha sells clothing, accessories and housewares made out of bamboo, which is hypoallergenic and breathable. Lillian Nolan and her son, Chris, will run their franchise at 181 Main St., the former Madison Boutique location.

This will be Utah-based Cariloha’s first mid-Atlantic shop. Its closest locations are in Maine and Florida.

The Nolans chose Annapolis because of its maritime culture. They expect to open in the late spring to early summer. The cost of the project was not disclosed.

“We thought about Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Old Town Alexandria, but, in effect, Annapolis is the right place for a store like this,” said Lillian Nolan, who lives in Montgomery County. “Annapolis is such a beautiful city. It’s so energetic and so many people come for the day or a few days.”

The Annapolis Economic Development Corp. helped the Nolans land their downtown location. Madison Boutique shuttered Jan. 31 after six years, first on Maryland Avenue, then on Main Street.

“Everything is moving along, they’re about to file their plans with the city,” said Lara Fritts, the economic development agency’s CEO. “We’re thrilled to have a new retailer on Main Street who provides an outstanding product and service to the Annapolis market.”

Cariloha started in 2008 with three stores in the cruise ship ports of Cozumel, Mexico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; and St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. There customers used the bamboo blend — which is cooler than cotton — to deal with hot and humid weather, according to the store’s website.

By 2012, there were 30 stand-alone Cariloha stores. The products range from $34 shirts up to $179 bedsheets.

The new store will be across the street from Seasons Olive Oil & Vinegar Taproom. Seasons owner Tim Balshi recently learned about the shop and said it will fit in with Main Street’s mix of accessory shops, clothiers and restaurants.

“It’ll be right next to Lou Lou, which is packed all the time,” Balshi said. On Main Street “they have this constant flow of foot traffic. We get it, too, which is nice. I think all of the businesses complement each other nicely.”