Former Broughton teacher pins hopes on sewing studio

June 14, 2012 

After 40 years of teaching students at Broughton High School how to sew, Nan Alexander decided to retire this year. But she wasn’t ready to stop teaching, so she’s opening a sewing studio called Pins & Needles.

The studio, which opens Monday, will offer classes to students in sixth to ninth grades. She’ll add classes for adults in July.

“I want to do it at my own pace now and not have to keep up with grading,” she said. “And just teach people who want to learn.”

With the help of her sons and husband, she’s renovated a building at 518 Pershing Road, off Whitaker Mill Road near Five Points in Raleigh, and filled it with sewing machines.

The class offerings vary from a three-hour introductory course for $35 to two weeks of classes (morning or afternoon for 3-1/2 hours) for $190. The cost includes all fabrics and patterns, and students will leave with something like a beach cover-up, pajama shorts and a monogrammed pillowcase, Alexander said.

“I want to concentrate on clothing,” Alexander said. She also said she plans to keep the classes small – eight people tops. For those who really want to learn from scratch, she’ll add a class in pattern design. In addition to her Broughton years, Alexander taught clothing constructions at N.C. State’s College of Design and has numerous students working in the New York fashion industry.

For more details on her classes, go to

My Girlfriend’s Closet, a popular women’s consignment store in downtown Apex, has opened a boutique in downtown Cary.

The store opened Thursday in an 1,800-square-foot space at 100 Parkthrough St., said Lois Cozart, who owns both shops, along with a small retail space in Wilmington.

Cozart, 55, of Raleigh, is partnering with her daughter, Ashley Hendricks, 24, on the new Cary location, hoping to duplicate the success of the Apex shop, which has been open for seven years.

Both the Apex and Cary shops carry a full range of women’s accessories and clothing in extra small through plus sizes. The Apex store also carries junior clothes, while the Cary store is venturing into maternity fashions.

Cozart said shoppers will find items ranging from designer brands to Target fashions. Among the brands currently in stock: Nanette Lepore, DVF, Tory Burch, Marc Jacobs, Juicy Couture and Lilly Pulitzer.

Consignment shops across the country have done well in the struggling economy, but Cozart attributes her success to more than just cheaper prices.

“Everybody always says it’s the economy, but honestly I think it’s the way we do it,” she said. “We try to treat people special,” she said, with a “fun and inviting environment.

“Of course, customers do love great prices and getting a deal, but they can get that anywhere,” Cozart said, citing discount retailers such as T.J. Maxx and Stein Mart.

The Cary store’s grand opening will be 5 to 8 p.m. June 28. Spa treatments, food, special discounts and goodie bags are among planned festivities.

The shop’s hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

Nine years and roughly one month after opening, Second Chance Books in Cary’s Harrison Square Shopping Center is closing its doors.

Mary Miller, who started the business with her husband, Mike, blamed e-readers, the down economy and the loss of Sam’s Club, the shopping center’s anchor tenant.

But mainly she blamed e-readers, which she said eroded even the store’s loyal fan base.

The business started its liquidation sale this week but still has more than 40,000 books, several hundred CDs, DVDs and audio books to sell, Miller said. They’re also selling the store fixtures, including the bookcases.

She said the store will be open until around the end of July (unless they sell out before then) with extended hours, staying open until 9 p.m. on weeknights. The store is at 1821 N. Harrison Ave.

Miller, who was a small-business accountant before a layoff led her to open the bookstore, said that after the store closes, she plans to take a vacation.

“I haven’t had one in about nine years,” she said. After that? “I’ll just start looking for something else.”

A Planet Fitness gym opens Sunday at Forestville Crossing, the shopping center at U.S. 401 and Forestville Road in Northeast Raleigh.

Staff writers Mary Cornatzer and Amy Dunn

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