Tiny Town, Big Bras
18-year-old Carrie Nagy demonstrates how her breasts open the cash register when she leans to ring through a customer. “My boobs keep getting in the way,” says Nagy with a laugh, slamming the till. She gestures to her top. “These guys always get in the way!”
At 231 Second Street in Kenora, Ontario, a left at the third set of lights after the roundabout, there is a shop filled floor-to-ceiling with brassieres.
Bright blue mesh with turquoise-spotted floral ridges. Soft pink moulding with thick, adjustable straps. A jet-black base with sparkling spiky studs.
The shop carries plus size panties, petite lingerie, bra carrying cases, cleaners, and accessories, while cup sizes range from an AA-cup, to an L-cup. Amongst the moulded cups, wires, straps, and padding, there are nursing bras, mastectomy bras, and specialty fits for whatever the debracle.
But before Island Girl, “The only place for women to buy bras in Kenora was at the local Walmart”, says Nagy. The largest size in some styles being a DD-cup.
With the Kenora population around 15,000 people in the winter, and nearly double that during the summer months, variety in women’s undergarments run sparse. Those who find themselves outside the realm of a DD are left stranded, scooping, binding, and often double-bra-ing, just to find some kind of comfort and security.
“I’ve always loved bras. It’s super important women wear the correct bra size,” says owner Michelle Livingston, who bought a failing lingerie shop, and transformed it into Island Girl (named after the hundreds of islands in the Lake of the Woods area).
After her frustration with the lack of bra options in her small town, she decided to take on the challenge of properly fitting the women of Kenora herself.
“60 per cent of women are still wearing the wrong bra size,” says Livingston. “My goal is to help women, and educate people… If you’re wearing a proper fitting bra, you will be happy all day long. If you want to rip it off…” Livingston imitates grabbing her breasts and throwing them across the room, “You’re going to be thinking about THAT all day.”
According to Livingston, the shop’s main advertising is through word of mouth. Although traffic is slow, “Less than 10 people a day” in the winter, in the summer, traffic jumps to “Around 450 people a day”. Like all of Kenora’s locally owned shops that are open year-round, Livingston depends on cottage-goers and summertime patrons to help her business.
“I have a lot of the small communities coming in here now,” says Livingston, gesturing over to the massive wall of bras. “Fort Frances, Dryden, Red Lake… We’re kind of the [bra] hub.”
Livingston’s bras range from $40-$120, where Walmart has less expensive styles starting at $10, but while Island Girl isn’t the cheapest, it goes above and beyond with one-on-one bra consults, and professional help.
“I try to listen to what they want… some people have certain issues with their body, and we’re all shaped so differently,” says Livingston. “It’s a service we’re providing, and women need it.”
Island Girl, open Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., only had a Facebook page right now, but their website will be up and running this summer.
Michelle Livingston can be reached at 807-468-6116 for any bra inquiries.
(Have any AWESOME local bra places in your community? Message me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your b(r)east bra experience! Until then, I’m off to see the wizard, the wonderful Wizard of Bras~
thanks for the joke, Emily)