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GLENS FALLS — The great granddaughter of local business pioneer Darwin Leland, who founded Leland Paper Co. in 1951, is carrying on the family’s entrepreneurial tradition.

Nathalie Leland has opened Whisper Boutique clothing store in the basement of 28 Ridge St., beneath Glens Falls Karate Academy.

Leland said she developed a passion for retail by selling Girl Scout cookies and hand-crafted bracelets as a child and has long dreamed of having her own business.

“They’ve always taught me to follow my gut and follow my dreams. You have to step outside your comfort zone,” she said, referring to her business role models — her father, Jeff Leland; and her grandfather and great-grandfather.

Leland sells new women’s clothing and jewelry, and will be adding men’s and children’s clothing soon.

“The goal is to have something for everyone,” she said.

With the addition of Whisper Boutique and Finders Keepers, which recently relocated from Warren Street to Glen Street, downtown now has seven clothing boutiques within a three-block area of Ridge, Glen and Exchange streets.

The Finders Keepers spot at 206 Glen St. is the fourth location for clothing consignment shop owner Kyleen Wade, who opened Finders Keepers in 2004 on Ridge Street, near the Stewart’s shop, about four blocks outside downtown.

Wade later moved to Union Square, on the western edge of downtown, and then Warren Street.

Wade said she expects the latest move will be the last, now that she is in the heart of downtown and has two floors of display space.

Downtown is building the critical mass of clothing shops and restaurants necessary to become a shopping destination, said Ann Parrish, owner of Milk & Honey clothing and gift boutique on Exchange Street.

“The whole girlfriend experience. They come for the day,” she said. “That’s what we want in Glens Falls.”

Other clothing shops in the three-block area are Scarpa Designs shoe store on Glen Street, Minky Mink clothing boutique on Glen Street, Fountain Square Outfitters on Ridge Street and Laura’s Vintage on Ridge Street.

Follow staff writer Maury Thompson at All Politics is Local blog, at PS_Politics on Twitter and at Maury Thompson Post-Star on Facebook.

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