Send In The Clowns

You mastered juggling — career, family, mortgage — years ago. From time to time, your kids and their friends sound like a herd of elephants lumbering through the house. And there are certainly times when you feel like you have two heads.

Some days, it feels like you live your life under the big top. But imagine, if you will, a circus of a different kind — where the three rings are full of gorgeous clothes, sumptuous accessories and truly astonishing prices.

For nine days in February and March, the Designers Circus will be the greatest show in Portland, if not on earth. Trust us — we've gone. We've bought. We've juggled.

Part sample sale, part warehouse free-for-all, the Designers Circus features national and local boutique designers who sell their goods for 50 percent to 90 percent off retail cost. It started in Boston in the '80s with one designer and has since grown to include a rotation of 175 designers (75 at a time) with shows in Braintree and Hyannis, Mass., as well as Portland. In Maine, there are three shows annually: Winter Blues (February/March); Memorial Day; and Back-To-School. The Designers Circus is intentionally under-the-radar, but it is worth seeking out.

In addition, the Circus is a socially and environmentally conscious endeavor: The sale raises money for women living with cancer, while the designers promote environmentally friendly practices and support indigenous cultures of the Americas.

The Winter Blues sale will take place from Saturday, Feb. 28, to Sunday, March 8, at 58 Fore St. in Portland (near the Railroad Museum). Hours, a full list of designers and directions click here.


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