And the town of Guilderland, New York, has been shaken to its very, um, foundations:
The bitter feud between the owners of Madame Pirie Famise Corset Shoppe and Her Underthings has grown more spiteful and uncomfortable for customers than, well, an ill-fitting bra.
The two specialty shops that offer custom fitting on women’s girdles and a wide selection of undergarments — including hard-to-find bras in sizes ranging from 30AAA to 56O — are locked in a pitched battle as their two businesses operate one-half block apart and try to bury the competition.
Where did this begin?
“Yes, it’s a feud, but I didn’t start it. I created a business to honor my late sister and I ended up in all this childish nonsense,” said Jackie Keto, 24, owner of Her Underthings. She opened the competing business in the Price Chopper plaza at 1704 Western Ave. in November 2014 after a judge ruled she could no longer use the Madame Pirie name or operate the store at its previous location of 1660 Western Ave.
Rosa Belleville ran Madame Pirie’s at 1660 Western Ave. for 14 years until she sold the business to an employee and protege, Jessica Keto, in January 2014 for $500,000. The deal included a $250,000 cash down payment and $250,000 to be paid in installments.
When Keto died unexpectedly at her Albany home on March 19, 2014 at 28, the future of Madame Pirie’s was thrown into doubt.
Keto’s younger sister, Jackie, who had worked at Pier 1 Imports in Colonie and majored in business and entrepreneurship at the College of Saint Rose, agreed to run the store. “It kind of fell to me,” she said.
Since her sister had only owned the business for about two months before her sudden death, the Keto family asked Belleville if they could return the Madame Pirie business and get the late woman’s $250,000 down payment back. Belleville declined and said she had already made extensive travel plans and wished to remain retired.
It got more complicated. Jackie Keto refused to continue the installment payments, on the basis that the inventory purchased from Madame Pirie was “old junk” that could not be sold. (Not so, said Belleville.) Keto eventually opened up a new store a few doors down, and used the old storefront to promote it. This annoyed Belleville enough to acquire a new storefront and reopen Madame Pirie.
I, of course, take no sides here, but I quail at Her Underthings’ slogan: “the place you get your bras at!”