Nestled amidst the many shops on Main Street of Watertown, Ragtime Boutique is a quiet hub brimming with stunning vintage pieces and elegant dresses. It’s a haven for accessory-loving, jewel-obsessed women who appreciate what the shop most proudly boasts; its history.
Nora Lembo opened Ragtime’s doors in the early 80s, naming the shop for both the novel and the Broadway play. Located originally in Oakville, she eventually expanded to Main Street. It’s been 35 years of award-winning success, but it hasn’t been without struggle. Cue Natalie.
Natalie Testa had interned at the boutique as a young woman, an opportunity presented to her during her college years. During her time managing Ragtime, she had told her boyfriend (now, her husband) that she would, one day, own it. Any person that claims that dreams don’t come true has clearly never met Natalie. When the shop began to fail, she left her position at Waterbury Garment, took out a loan, and made it happen.
And she continued to make it happen. While Natalie has a passion for bringing beautiful vintage pieces into Ragtime Boutique (think a full-length Valentino shearling coat), her outreach efforts are the backbone of the shop. She has sponsored the Miss Connecticut Organization for 13 years. Volunteered with the Waterbury Youth Services for “The Perfect Prom Project” by collecting and donating gowns to high school girls affected by Hurricane Katrina. The beauty of Ragtime Boutique isn’t just in its shop windows. It’s in the cause, the desire to help globally, and the drive to think locally.
It’s a mecca for individuality, a place where all are welcome. Not only welcome, but cherished and cared for. Ragtime is a space for the bride, for the mother, for anyone who is looking to feel stunning. It’s about finding a gown, or a piece of jewelry that brings out the radiance in a person. At Ragtime, it’s believed that one should know their beauty is not only seen, but appreciated. That’s why Natalie takes the time to repurpose vintage pieces, because she knows that in life, sometimes all it takes is a couple stitches, and a lot of love.
As a full bridal shop, Ragtime offers all the stops. Between taking frantic calls of cats shredding wedding dresses, to enjoying the satisfaction of customer appreciation, Natalie’s business has a soul beyond the glitz and glam. This, along with the vintage coursing through Ragtime’s veins, is what keeps its heart pumping.
Stopping by at Ragtime is an experience steeped in history. You’ll feel it as you enter the boutique, and you’ll remember it when you leave with something exquisite.