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Original Article written by Courtney Highfield for WHP CBS 21
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HARRISBURG, Pa. — A local small business is closing and the owner says part of the reason is not being able to compete with big online retailers.

Creative Elegance has been in business for 32 years but Kathy Cadieux says it’s time to shut the doors and that’s partially because fewer people are physically going to stores like hers to shop.

The retirement is bittersweet because Cadieux loves her store.

“Every day I walk through the doors, my girls come in through the side door and I walk through the front and I stand there and say hi honey I'm home,” said Cadieux.

She says it’s becoming increasingly difficult to compete with Amazon.

“One of the big things that really got to us was people would come in, fall in love with gowns or something, say this is great and clink they've got an app on their phone that they can find this online on amazon,” said Cadieux.

David Black, the CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC, says big box retailers are taking the biggest hit from E-Commerce but admits it is hurting small businesses.

“Is E commerce hurting small businesses? Sure. In some cases it’s so much easier to sit in your chair and sit a button and get what you need,” said Black.

But Cadieux and Black both stress there’s something you can’t get while you’re shopping online.

“The advantage of the small business is that they’re here in the community and part of what needs to be done is make the shopping experience personal and enjoyable, that’s what you can’t get online,” said Black.

Even though Cadieux is bowing out she says she wouldn’t trade the past 32 years for anything and she hopes her community will continue to support other small businesses.

“It was a gift from god and this was truly a heaven,” said Cadieux.

CBS 21 reached out to Amazon for comment and is still waiting to hear back.

Time to Move On

She started a successful business more than three decades ago with $100 in her purse and a handful of dried flowers.

Kathy Cadieux, owner and founder of Creative Elegance Boutique, never wished or dreamed of becoming an entrepreneur. “It just happened,” she says.

Born and raised in Camp Hill, Kathy yearned to leave the region she called home after graduating from high school.

“Ironically, I returned, smack dab in the center of the town I longed to leave,” she laughs. “The grass isn’t always greener.”

After graduating from Camp Hill High School, she received a swimming athletic scholarship at the University of Miami.

“I loved, loved, loved swimming!” she says. “But when I was training for the 1976 Olympics, something didn’t feel right. I still liked to swim, but I didn’t want to swim at such a competitive level.”

Kathy transferred to James Madison University her junior year. Two years later, she graduated with a degree in teaching.

Following college, she taught high school for a year in Virginia, but little did she know her path would lead her back to South Central Pennsylvania after her high school sweetheart proposed to her. Kathy moved to the Lancaster area, had two children and continued her teaching career at Palmyra School District.

Although she thought teaching was to be her lifelong profession, her heart led her in a different direction. One day she made the decision to leave. “I took the leap into sales,” she says.

She and her husband purchased a car dealership. “I was selling cars after I left teaching, but in my spare time, I always enjoyed designing jewelry,” Kathy says. “I would take my designs to street fairs. I truly had so much fun.”

Kathy soon began designing her own clothing line and BAM! The beginning of the Creative Elegance Boutique was on the horizon.

“My first clothing store was in Strasburg,” she says. Kathy soon learned that it was much less expensive to buy other designer’s lines of clothing than cataloging her own.

“Oh – did I mention I also bought a coffee shop near my clothing store?” she asks.

Following her mother’s advice, who was still living in Camp Hill, Creative Elegance returned “home.”

“Managing two clothing stores and a coffee shop was taking its toll – the traveling, the hours. I eventually sold the Strasburg stores and concentrated on the Camp Hill location.”

Every day Kathy walks into her store at 2129 Market Street, Camp Hill through the front doors – never the side door. Why? “I finally came home. The historic former Landis Jeweler’s building that is over 200 years old is my home, my store, my passion. I truly love what I do. I get to make women feel pretty. I get to make them feel special.”

Kathy believes the best part of the last 32 years she has been in business is the circle of family she developed. “I have always had the best employees, the best customers. I have met so many women – it is a massive family that has grown that I am so lucky to have been a part of. I love, love, love the connections that were made – the stories we have shared. I have been blessed.”

“After 32 years, I had a great run,” she whispers. “It is time to pass the torch over to someone who is as passionate as me. It is time to spend more time with my children and four grandbabies.”

As a true optimist, like Kathy, would say, ‘When one door closes, another opens.’

“Retirement is the next door in my life’s journey,” she adds. “And it is time to step through it.”

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