SPRING HILL — Credit Ali Jackson-Lopez’s grandmother for the launch of Southern Sisters Boutique, a shop of gently-worn women’s designer clothing, accessories and home décor. As a child, the now 30-year-old woman followed her grandmother on shopping excursions and learned the thrill of finding a bargain.
Diana Bennett, 29, teamed up with Jackson-Lopez to shop for wearables and wares, and offer high-end labels at reasonable resale prices.
"Lots of people like designers," Jackson-Lopez said. "We do all the hunting for you. We hand-select everything that comes into our store." Among the tops, jeans, jackets, handbags and footwear, labels run to Chico’s, Ann Taylor, Hollister, Miss Me, Vera Bradley, Coach, Justin and more.
The boutique sets itself apart from other resale shops by buying and selling items outright rather than offering consignments.
"Why have to wait for your money, and they take 60 percent of your sale?" Jackson-Lopez asked.
The duo also allows customers to swap their clothing, handbags, jewelry and whatnots for credit toward new-to-you goods.
"We all wear about 20 percent of what’s in our closets," said Jackson-Lopez. "That other 80 percent, you bring it here, and get something that you will wear. Every day, someone brings in their clothing and shoes and walks out with a Coach bag."
The women have no bricks-and-mortar retail experience, but they intend to promote the boutique by offering unique experiences and getting active in the community. They’ve already held their first "Serene Shopping Experience." Planned monthly, the after-hours events include a half-hour of VIP shopping followed by a free yoga class.
"Basically, I want to offer something (customers) might do on their own," said Jackson-Lopez. A participant in the first "experience" reportedly told her the shop is bringing life to Kass Circle.
Another upcoming event: line dancing with a sale on cowgirl boots and shoes.
Jackson-Lopez and Bennett realize they must tempt traffic to their site in the far northeastern curve of Kass Circle off Spring Hill Drive. The challenge, Bennett said, is "people getting to know us."
They’ve remodeled the interior of their strip-mall unit with a warm and rustic wood look. Next door, a new salon and spa has helped spruce up were a couple of dark spaces. The businesses have accomplished what a Kass Circle rehabilitation project envisions.
"We have a lot of great little businesses coming together to see what they want to do with the renaissance," said Hernando County Planning Department specialist Michelle Miller.
"People are starting to invest there," said Pat Crowley, executive director of the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce. "We have an eclectic group of businesses." Crowley also serves on the community development project board of directors.
Southern Sisters Boutique has joined the chamber to help spread word of its presence.
As for the name, "Southern Sisters?"
"We’re best friends, not sisters," Jackson-Lopez said, "but best friends like sisters."
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]