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Diana Kuyper: Antioch resale shop has a social purpose

Columnist DianKuyper

Columnist Diana Kuyper

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Updated: July 22, 2011 2:33AM



With all things doom and gloom in our economy, it was refreshing to visit a new business in downtown Antioch that capitalizes on our universal need to pinch pennies.

Ooh-La-La Boutique, 906 Main St., is a charming upscale consignment shop owned by two childhood friends, Carolyn DeBell of Salem, Wis., and Natalie Fields of Antioch.

A visit to a resale shop in Rochester, Wis., in March inspired them to jump right into their business venture. “We were so impressed with this shop that we just looked at each other and said, ‘Let’s do it,’” said Carolyn. “In three months we went from zero to 100 mph and in the process we’ve learned a lot.”

Neither had owned a business, but they both know what they liked and what they wanted to offer their customers. “We want to offer nice designer items to women who are struggling like we are to balance a household budget,” said Natalie.

They know women like to shop, but can’t afford a $100 handbag or an equally expensive pair of jeans. “Women like to play dress-up. Shopping is to women what golf is to men,” laughed Natalie. “We’re giving our customers an upscale atmosphere where they can shop for nice things at a fraction of the price.”

This is not a typical resale or thrift shop — it has the ambience of an upscale boutique but with some ingenuity they created it on a minimal budget.

“We couldn’t get a loan, so we just started looking around for items at resale shops and garage sales to decorate the shop,” said Carolyn, pointed out that the landlord provided a new floor and built a dressing room, and they painted the walls a light pink with black trim. Their attention to detail has really paid off. “We call it shabby chic.”

They’ve been soliciting new, used and vintage clothing, shoes, handbags, jewelry and other accessories from friends and acquaintances, and now that they are open they are adding consignment items from dozens of customers.

Ooh-La-La will keep 60 percent of the proceeds of what they sell within 90 days and, with permission of the consignor, donate all unsold items to A Safe Place in Waukegan, an organization that helps women who are victims of domestic violence.

“We want to pay it forward,” said Natalie. “We want to have fun with this shop, but we also want to make a difference in the community.”

“We all have a purpose, and our purpose here is to help other women to dress for success,” said Carolyn. “It’s all about women helping women.”

Diana Kuyper’s column appears Fridays. You can e-mail her at dkuyper4760@msn.com.



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