Chelsea’s last dance

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At the end of March, Chelsea of London will be closing its doors after 20 years in business.

Judy Hamilton said the last two decades of showing women how to look better wearing less has gone by quickly.

It was 1993, the Golden downtown streetscape had just been completed, the Table Mountain Inn had just opened, and a prime retail spot on the corner of Washington and 12th Street had just opened up.

“It looked like a nice little main street to do business on,” Hamilton recalled.

Having grown up and raised her children in Golden, Hamilton said she was happy to set up her boutique here, filled with lotions and perfume, with a small section of lingerie. She named it Chelsea of London, after that area’s famously diverse shopping opportunities.

Hamilton said she quickly found that it was the tiny section of her store dedicated to undergarments that was driving sales, as she was constantly placing larger orders to try to keep up with the demand.

“Within three months, it had completely turned into a lingerie store,” Hamilton said.

The store had found a niche, and filled a need according to Hamilton. Without another lingerie boutique west of I-25 in the metro area, she has enjoyed two straight decades of strong business.

“I even have a woman from Iceland who comes in once a year to buy all of her lingerie,” Hamilton said.

Kim, a repeat customer who works in Golden, stopped in to the shop last week, drawn by the news that the store would be closing.

“It’s just classy and good service here,” Kim said, asking that her last name not be used.

It has been a fun industry, Hamilton says, one that has let her work with people. She said bra fitting has been especially rewarding, helping women overcome years of discomfort and dissatisfaction, since eight of 10 women wear the wrong sized bra.

“They come in here and leave looking and feeling better,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton remembers the time a customer apparently felt a bit too comfortable in the store. The customer was in the changing room, and asked if it would be OK for her to run across the room to retrieve something from her purse. Hamilton said it would be fine.

“She came out and started walking across the store, not wearing anything except for a pair of boots!” Hamilton said.

Hamilton said her regular customers have expressed shock that she would be closing, with a few upset women, and gift-seeking men in a panic. She has put the entire store on sale.

Hamilton has her reasons for shutting down. For one, she can close up the shop on her own terms right now. A second reason is to spend more time with family.

“I’ve got one grand baby that was born on Christmas Eve, another on the way, a mother to visit and a husband to travel with.”

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