From basement to boutique: Store carries used clothing for plus-size women

06/05/2014 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 5:58 PM

Kathleen Perez’s weight goes up and down.

“I didn’t want to have to go out and buy new clothes” with every change, Perez said. “I’m very much a cheapskate. I only shop in thrift stores. I wanted to be able to find a store that would carry all sizes.”

Figuring other women were in the same boat, she recently opened Fat Sally’s, a used clothing boutique for plus-size women.

“I try to carry all trendy stuff. I don’t have dated pieces. I read all fashion blogs and magazines.”

The idea isn’t unique. Perez had been working at Junk in the Trunk, a store featuring a similar inventory. When it closed at the end of 2013, she thought she might be able to pick up its former customers.

The 1,200-square-foot store carries women’s blouses and pants size large and up, plus shoes, purses, jewelry, perfume, hair products and more.

“They’re all used, but they’re all new and clean.”

There’s also a small selection of used men’s clothing.

A mother of five, Perez said she worked as a cosmetologist for a decade but decided “fashion was what I wanted to do.”

She started selling clothes via a Facebook page.

“I would go and meet the people. I had so many ladies say, ‘I would just love to raid your closet.’ My husband said, ‘You know what? You should just open a store. It would save you all the gasoline going to meet these people.’ Without him, I’d still be selling out of my basement.”

Perez offers a store credit program that works like this: People who bring in clothes get a certain amount of credit. They can use half of that credit to buy something else from the store, making up the rest in cash. The credit is good for a year.

“I would love to be able to do like a swap, but that doesn’t keep my doors open,” she said.

Perez also scours garage sales and other thrift shops for inventory. And she said she’s been touched by the actions of some people in the neighborhood, which includes a number of mobile home communities. One woman simply donated clothes to Perez that she didn’t want anymore.

“She said, ‘I don’t want the store credit. I just want to donate it to you because I want to see you succeed.’ ”

Perez opened Fat Sally’s about a month ago and plans to hold a grand opening Saturday. She’s open every day but Monday.

Perez said the store’s name is a tribute to her mother.

“My mom’s name was Sally, and she was a plus-sized lady. And she was very proud, she wasn’t always dieting.”

“Fat is like a bad word sometimes. People use it to try to hurt people. But I don’t think it should be a negative word. I think it should just represent you.”

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