By Missy Schrott | [email protected]
When Sarah Bryen and Abigail Wolverton realized they’d been dating the same guy, neither could have imagined they’d be signing a lease on a boutique together less than a year later.
The pair soft-opened Sassy Boutique, a mid-to-high-range women’s clothing resale store, in a 225-square-foot space in Crilley Warehouse on North Lee Street about two weeks ago.
Both Old Town residents, Bryen, 34, and Wolverton, 24, had run in similar social circles before they decided to get drinks together at an Old Town bar in August 2018. It wasn’t long into the get-to-know-you happy hour that they learned a little too much about each other.
“We were talking about exes and things, and it just kind of snowballed from there,” Wolverton said.
Their relationships with the mutual boyfriend quickly ended, but a friendship between the newfound mutual exes was born.
“This isn’t about a guy,” Wolverton said. “It’s about a friendship that we built after that and the business relationship we built after that. It’s not really about him. He’s just an interesting way we met. He has great taste. That’s one thing we can say about him.”
After realizing how similar they were, the pair began to bond over thrift shopping and fashion.
“I think it started with us going to Goodwill together,” Bryen said. “That’s where it started, and we were like, ‘Maybe we can do this for other people.’”
Their abstract dreams of opening a resale shop together became concrete when Bryen found a space at Crilley Warehouse on Craigslist. The building’s other tenants include children’s clothing store Monday’s Child, Geometrics Hair Design and Diya Indian Cuisine.
Realizing the tiny space on the first floor of the building was in their price range, Bryen and Wolverton decided to dive into the business venture. They signed the lease in July this year.
“It wasn’t something we were immediately planning on. I think it was the space that said, ‘You’ve gotta do this,’” Wolverton said.
A few months later, the shop is open for business. Wolverton manages the store full-time, currently operating Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Bryen, owner of Old City Marketing by day and bartender by night, does the boutique’s marketing.
Wolverton and Bryen together supply Sassy Boutique’s inventory, which includes a variety of women’s clothing, including dresses, tops and accessories.
When asked where they get their resale finds, Bryen said, “That’s our secret, but a little bit of everywhere.”
With brands ranging from J.Crew to Kate Spade, Sassy Boutique carries a little bit of everything. The common thread, however, is quality.
“We will not put anything on the floor that is not in immaculate condition,” Bryen said.
Bryen, a former saleswoman at a high-end clothing store in Georgetown, brings her expertise in craftsmanship to the job. When searching for inventory, Bryen said she looks for things like flattering shapes, hand-stitching and renowned brands.
“A lot of times, [other stores] don’t know what they have, which makes it extra fun,” Bryen said. “This was one of our finds, and it happens to be Armani. We also found a Tahari blazer that’s still at Nordstrom retailing for $400-some.”
Bryen and Wolverton typically price their finds at half of the item’s retail price, give or take.
The business owners said thus far the most difficult part about getting the boutique off the ground has been getting people in the door. Located on North Lee Street, the boutique is two blocks from the foot traffic of King Street. Based in Crilley Warehouse, they lack the benefits of a street-facing window display.
“It is off King, and even off of King, it’s off the street, but building that online presence I think is a big part,” Wolverton said.
Bryen has been taking the lead on Sassy Boutique’s marketing and social media strategy. In addition, the duo said they’ve been working to ensure the people who come into the boutique have a positive experience.
“If people have a specific wish list, we will track it down and find it. If you say you like this shirt and it’s not your size, okay that’s what we’ll do,” Bryen said. “The fun of a small town is that if someone has a request, we can do that.”
As for their friendship, Wolverton and Bryen said they’re closer than ever.
“We always have something to talk about, to get excited about, to look at,” Bryen said.
“In our more down moments, it’s like, ‘Let’s not think about that,’” Wolverton said. “’Let’s think about what we’re going to do with the store. Let’s think about the lovely things that’re happening.’”
“It’s a confidence builder,” Bryen added.
Sassy boutique has a grand opening loosely scheduled for Nov. 14. For more information, visit www.sassyoldtown.com or visit the boutique in person at 218 N. Lee St.