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Fuqua alum to open local clothing boutique

A new clothing boutique opening in West Village will offer stylish and affordable apparel to Durham women.

The owners of Magpie, Tad Schwendler, Fuqua ’03, and his wife Po-Ming Wong, hope to open the store by the first week in December. In July, Wong left her position as director of treasury operations in Duke’s Department of Treasury and Cash Management to begin her entrepreneurial venture. Despite having trepidations about opening a business in the current economy, Wong said now felt like an opportune time. 

“We actually thought about opening last fall and held back—we feel the timing is now right with all the momentum downtown as more and more restaurants and retail stores open their doors,” she said.

Schwendler and Wong chose Suite D of the Walker building on 601 West Main Street for their location, which neighbors West End Wine Bar. West End manager Kevin Eastin said he is optimistic about Magpie’s opening, stating that the owners seem nice and the clothing stylish.

“I think this will be really good for our business,” Eastin said. “At our old location in Chapel Hill, a lot of customers from the neighboring retail store Uniquities stopped in the bar after finishing their shopping.”

Students said they were excited about a new clothing store opening within walking distance from East Campus.

“It’d be really convenient to have a clothing store nearby,” freshman Lisa Chi said. “Even though we have Southpoint and Northgate, it’s still nice to have some more options that we can walk to.”

Magpie and West End share the renovated Walker tobacco warehouse, originally built in 1897. Currently, the building features 27-foot high ceilings, skylights and much of the original architecture.

The couple said having two minds working together will help the business run more smoothly. While Schwendler will handle the financial side  of the boutique, Wong will use the skills she gained from working at Duke to streamline the business’s operations.

The apparel targets a broad age range of customers, from college students to older women. 

Wong has traveled extensively and uses style inspiration from other cultures to give Magpie a unique and diverse selection, ranging from established brands to emerging and international designers. The clothing will incorporate both daytime and evening wear.

“The clothes are versatile—many of them could be worn to an interview, but would also work in a social atmosphere,” Wong said, noting that the store will also offer jewelry, body care and home accessories.

Like many of their friends, the couple chose to remain in Durham after Schwendler finished his studies at Fuqua.

“We wanted to provide the Durham community with a retail service,” Schwendler said.


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