Published 12:00 am Monday, January 14, 2013

SALISBURY — A popular downtown women’s boutique and its new next-door neighbor have more in common than cute clothes and fresh style.
Adella Apparel and Lora Belle Baby are not only sister stores but sister-in-law stores.
Situated side-by-side at 105 N. Main St., the boutiques are owned by sisters-in-law Sara Frick, who founded Adella Apparel in August 2011, and Aubrey Foster, who opened Lora Belle Baby with her mother, Machelle Frick, in November 2012.
Sara said she had no concerns about her mother-in-law moving in next door. In fact, Sara suggested it.
“I knew she had good taste,” Sara said.
Machelle credited Sara’s unique decorating style at Adella — modern, clean lines with a touch of femininity — as inspiration for the overhaul of the former Stringfellows Music location.
Transforming the dark, carpeted music store once filled with electric guitars and jamming musicians into a children’s clothing boutique was no small feat.
“The first time I walked in I think I looked at Sara and said, ‘There’s no way,’” Machelle said.
They took down walls, tore out insulation, pulled up carpet, refinished the original hardwood floors and painted every surface. About $50,000 later, the results are both sweet and stunning.
Now, Lora Belle smells of baby lotion and shampoo, with carefully arranged racks and baskets of specialty clothing brands up to size 6 including Zutano, Little Giraffe, Kissy Kissy, Ruffle Butts and Rugged Butts.
But Lora Belle doesn’t stop with bath care and clothing.
The shop offers stylish Clek car seats and eco-friendly Bamboobies nursing pads. Women’s chunky necklaces called Chewbeads double as baby teethers.
Soon, Lora Belle Baby will carry Boba, voted the top baby carrier in 2012 by Baby Center.
Machelle and Aubrey opened Lora Belle for the same reasons Sara opened Adella. They couldn’t find what they were looking for in Salisbury and were tired of traveling to Winston-Salem and Concord for baby clothes and shower gifts.
Parents-to-be can register at Lora Belle for upcoming showers, and the shop offers comfortable chairs for nursing and a diaper-changing station.
Mothers with young children can shop for themselves at Adella and then step next door, without ever going outside, to shop for their kids.
Sara, Aubrey and Machelle cut a hole in the wall to create a doorway between the boutiques. The convenience makes shopping easier for their customers, and it also helps Machelle keep tabs on her three grandchildren: Sara’s 2-year-old Holden and 4-month-old Hazel, and Aubrey’s 7-month-old Ganon.
“It’s good because if he’s up here, he wants to be with Grammy,” Sara said of Holden. “Now we can swap babies.”
Lora Belle was the name of Machelle’s grandmother, who had 14 children. None were twins.
“She deserved to have something named after her,” Machelle said.
“She knew a thing or two about babies,” Sara added.
While running a small business with little help is tough, Machelle is no stranger to hard work. She and husband Andy Frick — known as Super Gramps to his grandchildren — started American Stars Gymnastics in 1995 and operated the gym until they sold it about five years ago.
Aubrey, now a nurse in the emergency department at Rowan Regional Medical Center, was a gymnast. She works at Lora Belle about half the time the shop is open, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Adella has the same hours.
Customers will often find Holden, Hazel and Ganon playing or resting in the boutiques.
“It’s important to us to be a family while we are here,” Machelle said. “That’s one reason we opened the door in between the shops.”
The women are coming up with other ways to collaborate, including a possible fashion show featuring moms dressed by Adella with their children dressed by Lora Belle Baby.

Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.