Every year on her birthday, Hamden resident Lisa McGuire receives a check in the mail from her grandmother in California for $100.
And every year, she does the same thing with the money: she heads for Talbots at 3490 Whitney Ave. in northern Hamden
That's where McGuire was this week, shopping for some fall sweaters.
"I love Talbots, they have the most beautiful clothes anywhere," said McGuire, 24, a Hamden High School graduate and administrative assistant who works in a New Haven office.
"I love their style," McGuire said. "It's pretty basic but it's fashionable and it's great to wear to work. You can tell just by holding the clothes that they are really good quality."
The store specializes in women's clothing and accessories, and also has petite and plus sizes, as well as jewelry and handbags.
"My mother used to bring me here when I was a kid and I was so bored," said Margaret Raymond, 31, of Hamden. "But now it's one of my favorite stores -- I come here all the time. It's my guilty pleasure."
Talbots opened its first store in Massachusetts in 1947 and now has 580 stores in 47 states. It also sells its clothes through its website, talbots.com
But for many customers like Cheshire resident Marge Konig, half the enjoyment is browsing through the clothes.
"I've been coming here for years," she said. "I don't think ordering online would be the same -- I enjoy seeing what they have and holding and feeling the fabric before I buy it.
"They have a wonderful variety of clothes, and the quality is superb," she said. "It can be pricey, but they do have some very nice sales as well."
Her sister Marianne Keating of Clinton agreed.
"I can't afford it often, but a few times a year I'll splurge and buy a few things," she said, "usually when they're running a sale. The clothes are such high quality that they last forever so really they are worth the money."
The women showed off their purchases -- two fall sweaters in gold and rust colors, and two pairs of black pants. Both purchases were for a Halloween party they are attending this weekend with their husbands.
"No costumes for us," Keating laughingly said. "Too old for that.
"Besides," her sister said, "it's a perfect excuse to buy new outfits."