photography by JODIE BRIM CREATIVE
From the moment you enter, one of Fraleigh’s sales associates greets you with a smile and a warm welcome and it is clear… you are in the midst of someplace very special, familial even. While there are many reasons this much-loved Clemmons boutique has been successful for 42 years (and counting), the one that stands out above the rest is their mission to make sure customers are treated like family. Fraleigh’s has been a family owned and operated business from the very beginning. Owner Donna Merriman‘s childhood dream was to one day open a women’s boutique that boasted the best customer service, highest quality fashionable selections, and a “family feel” where satisfied customers kept coming back again and again. At age 15, with a worker’s permit in hand, Donna accepted a position at a local women’s shop and immediately knew this was her lifelong career pathway. Over the next several years she continued to work in various specialty stores catering to ladies and looked forward to the day when she would have her very own boutique. Her mother and best friend, Mary, had always been a stay-at-home mom, but was willing and eager to step out of that role to help Donna realize her dream. In August 1981, with the love and support of Mary Frances (Fra), Donna (Leigh) opened the doors of Fraleigh’s to the Clemmons community and this powerhouse mother-daughter duo quickly became a local fashion icon. Donna and her mother collaborated side-by-side across the decades until Mary passed away in 2020. Today, Donna and her daughter-in-law and boutique manager, Ally Merriman, work side by side, continuing the Fraleigh’s family tradition of offering impeccable personal service and exceptional apparel and accessories to women in the Clemmons area and beyond. Year after year, Fraleigh’s is recognized as a local favorite. In fact, just two months ago they were voted “Best of Women’s Apparel in Clemmons/Lewisville,” and with so many clothes shopping options in the area, this achievement was one Donna and Ally were proud and honored to receive.
“Friends and family are the foundation of our success. Whether you work or shop at Fraleigh’s, you are family.” ~Donna Merriman, Owner
To the casual observer, it is abundantly clear from the moment you step inside the front door that the women who work there are not only highly knowledgeable about every item in the store, but they are a tight-knit group who enjoys one another and enjoys helping their customers. In addition to Donna and her mother (who was there approximately 40 years), there are many associates who have a lengthy tenure. Recently, three associates retired after working at Fraleigh’s for 25 years. Longevity in the workplace and high accolades from customers speak volumes about the commitment to provide a warm and friendly environment to work and shop. As Ally shared, “We are known for our customer service, and we are committed to treating everyone like we want to be treated. New customers receive a greeting and a quick lay of the land, and then are left to browse. If they want shopping suggestions, we will gladly point them in the right direction, but there is never a hard sales pitch. Our clothes, shoes, and accessories sell themselves.” For customers who want a personalized shopping experience, the Fraleigh’s team are masterful at assessing a customer’s style and comfort zone to quickly pull together just the right pieces for any occasion – guaranteed to be most flattering! Donna chimed in, “If someone is open minded about what she can wear, she will not leave empty handed.”
“I’ve been shopping at Fraleigh’s since 1983. I can always find what I’m looking for whether it’s for a special occasion, day-to-day office, or play clothes. They make me feel special and part of the family.” ~Jo A. Peay, Longstanding Customer
Whether you’re looking for that perfect outfit for an upcoming special event or just need to accessorize what you already have, Fraleigh’s has you covered from head to toe. Each item of clothing, costume jewelry, shoes, bags, hats, and scarves are carefully hand-picked by Donna and Ally at market four times a year, as well as from trusted sales reps who routinely stop by the store with their rolling racks of fabulous new items. Always on the lookout for what’s trending (and making certain to select timeless classics, too), they frequently shop with specific customers in mind. Ally stated, “It’s such fun to bring back new pieces we know our Fraleigh’s friends and family will absolutely love.” From fancy blue jeans to professional attire to mother-of-the-bride, Fraleigh’s has something for everyone!
“We make dressing up fun and treat our customers like royalty. Our raised ‘center stage’ is the perfect place for customers to test out a new outfit and get honest feedback from the Fraleigh’s team!” ~Ally Merriman
While the personal attention and service is extraordinary, Fraleigh’s goes a step farther with their customer loyalty cards. For every $30.00 spent customers receive a stamp, and after 10 stamps they receive a $20.00 gift card to be used on a current or future purchase. In addition to the rewards program and fantastic ongoing deals, Fraleigh’s allows customers who are undecided to take the item with them on approval for 24-48 hours. As Donna remarked, “We have a mutual adoration and respect with our clients, and this is just another way to show them they are like family to us – no credit card or longstanding customer status required.” Another example of the lengths to which Donna and her team will go to take care of customers is creative problem solving when the unexpected happens. During the height of the global pandemic when customers could not come to Fraleigh’s, Ally suggested that Fraleigh’s go to the customers… via video on Facebook and Instagram. This social media venture proved to be a phenomenal platform to keep the “virtual doors” open, and even after the customers began to come to the boutique once more, the demand for the videos continued. Therefore, every Sunday – Friday, Ally stands behind the camera and records Donna (as the familiar and relatable face of Fraleigh’s) as she shares fabulous new arrivals, specials on wardrobe pieces, creative ways to put together seasonal outfits, etc., and keeps customers up to date with her family…a new grandchild, her son’s upcoming wedding, and even introducing viewers to her entire family on a recent vacation at the beach. Her authenticity and transparency make local and long-distance shoppers feel like they are family, too! Suffice it to say that Fraleigh’s virtual shopping experience has exceeded Donna’s and Ally’s expectations and the continual uptick in sales has proved it a definite success. From coast to coast (and a flat shipping fee of only $8.00 whether you live down the street or in California), Fraleigh’s continues to expand their business one family member at a time!
Be sure to catch Fraleigh’s Boutique’s daily live videos on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube (every day except Saturday) — to keep up with specials and new arrivals. Visit Fraleigh’s at 2626 Lewisville-Clemmons Road in Clemmons, 336-766-7440, and follow them on Instagram @fraleighsboutique and at Fraleighsboutiquenc.com. Boutique hours are Monday through Friday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.