(Pictured: Christina St. Clair, who will take over the store in 2023)
If anyone had told Margaret Law long ago that she would spend more than three decades of her life working in the t-shirt business, the lady with a sassy blonde feathered bob and a ready smile might have laughed. It was the mid-1980s, and she was enjoying a busy career in the food and beverage industry, living in South Lake Tahoe and enjoying the often hectic demands of restaurant management in a popular tourism region.
Yet on the side, she was also managing the wholesale side of a t-shirt printing company and dreaming of someday owning her own business. That was 1988, and one day, the owners asked if she wanted to run a retail space with them in a new area. She would find the location, and they would supply the inventory.
She visited other charming tourist spots, including Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Park City, Utah; and Mt. Bachelor, Oregon. “Then I went to Calistoga,” she recalls now. “I fell in love, it had to be Calistoga.”
By 1989, she had found the perfect storefront on Lincoln Avenue just south of Washington Street, and the Tahoe company owners offered her the chance to take it on her own. “I was elated,” she tells Visit Calistoga. Family pitched in to help her remodel, and Chateau Ste. Shirts was born.
Today, the stylish shop sells much more than t-shirts, beckoning with casual clothing, swimwear, resort wear, and footwear for all sizes and all seasons. Finishing touches include colorful scarves, unique jewelry, and fashionable hats, all chosen for the elegant but relaxed vibe of the small, Wine Country burg.
“People that come to Calistoga are such happy visitors, delighted for a getaway,” Law says. “Ladies here for a three-day girls’ weekend, couples on romantic retreats, family reunions, business people taking a break…everyone is always smiling.”
Part of Calistoga’s original draw was its community, Law explains, a sense of support and camaraderie that has always been important to her. As early as nine years old, she loved being part of groups, playing with the “Slick Chicks” Nevada Youth Soccer league team, then later, coaching. After arriving in Calistoga, she coached the local girls’ softball team, and became the first woman President of Calistoga Little League.
“Those were some of the best years of my life,” she says, “Giving to my community, helping my community.”
During her free time, Law loves to soak up the small-town charm, take walks with her dog, garden, barbecue, and watch movies with her many friends.
By next year, she plans to celebrate more free time, too, finally retiring after more than 33 years with her beloved business. A colleague, Christina St. Clair has worked for her since the shop’s inception and will take it over in 2023. The business name will change, but the mission will remain the same, to showcase what is Calistoga: “a welcoming neighborhood,” Law says, “This is a quaint place where everyone joins in to support things like Fireman’s bingo, bake sales to fund a community pool and the Calistoga education foundation’ annual auction. We are open arms to all.”