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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Black-owned boutique brings thrill to thrifting

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Thrifting seems to be the No. 1 buzz word on the tips of fashionista’s tongues these days. The pasttime of scouring through racks of used clothing is no longer stigmatized as an act reserved for the needy, cheap or elderly. In the hit song “Thrift Shop” by pop star Macklemore, the rapper brags about making the most of a $20 shopping excursion and the harsh reality of an unstable economy – just the motivation needed for the stylish yet financially savvy. According to First Research, it is estimated that the resale industry in the U.S. will have annual revenues of approximately $13 billion.

Lisa Foote, a former full-time waitress and bartender, opened More Than A Boutique two years ago to share her love of affordable clothing with the masses.

“I’ve always been into fashion, but I’ve always been on a budget,” said Foote. “So I’ve always been a fan of thrifted fashion.”

Seeing her vision come to life “was a whirlwind,” she said. “I think it was just meant to be,” said Foote.

Shortly after opening, Foote enrolled in college courses to help sharpen her business practices. She currently receives all of her inventory through donations and closet cleanouts. This has allowed her to offer everything on her shelves at prices lower than $20. Foote also sets her resale store apart from the rest by laundering and dry cleaning every item she sells.

“That was big to me,” she said. “I think when you’re on a budget, a lot of retail places give you the leftovers. It’s not a bargain if you have stains and rips in it.”

Although she is excited to see her passion fulfilled in real life, she admits that life as the sole proprietor of a Black-owned fashion retail business has been no cakewalk. In her downtown neighborhood, she says support from other area businesses, including a well-known tailor whose services she has used in the past, is basically non-existent.

“People always say, don’t play the race card and I’m not, but sometimes it can be so blatant,” said Foote. “I’ve gone to other boutiques and been treated terribly until I tell them I’m the owner of a thrift store.”

Foote said those particular setbacks have motivated her to create an atmosphere that is welcoming and supportive of everyone who walks through the door. Her eclectic mix of visitors has included women from area homeless shelters who shop on her clearance rack filled with children’s clothing, to one 60-year-old man who came for help with dressing in drag for the first time.

“If you can walk into a place whether you’re gay, straight, Black, white, whatever and the person behind the counter is glad to see you … that’s huge,” said Foote. In addition to providing fashion advice and great deals, Foote gives back to the community through efforts with Dress for Success, the Salvation Army and other area nonprofits.

“That’s when you know you’re doing the right thing,” said Foote. “When you touch people.”

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