Shirley’s Clothes Closet and Things gives south side new place to shop
By St. Clair Murraine Outlook staff writer
The pitch wasn’t different from what any customers walking into a small store usually hears the moment they step inside.
“Just take your time and look around,” Shirley Gooding-Butler told the woman coming through the door, before she began to slowly browse jewelry hanging on a wall in front of her.
Janet Wright was just one of the handfuls of customers who have shopped at Shirley’s Clothes Closet and Things since its recent opening, but Gooding-Butler is optimistic that her small business will flourish before too long.
The store is tucked inside a small building on Orange Avenue, where her husband operated an electronics repair shop before his death 10 years ago. Four days each week Gooding-Butler open the doors to the boutique-style store that’s full of clothes, shoes and jewelry.
The store is a vision that Gooding-Butler had last December. It has become a reprieve and a way for her to spend time when she isn’t volunteering at her church or with the Senior Center.
“I enjoy people so this gives me a chance to meet people,” she said. “I enjoy clothes so this gives me a chance to work with clothing.”
She has set her grand opening for Sept. 24, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce will officially endorse the business as part of the ceremonies, Gooding-Butler said.
Gooding-Butler said she decided to open the store because it would be a good fit for the Southside of Tallahassee to have a choice of quality clothes that were slightly used.
And, for a price that’s competitive with any thrift store, she said.
“If I was in a different area of town, I would have put a different price tag on it but I know where I am,” Gooding-Butler said. “I want to make sure that the people that live here can come here and find something.”
Selling is a new experience for Gooding-Butler, a longtime state worker before she retired. But she could be persuasive.
Like the time she made one last pitch to a customer who said she couldn’t find her size in clothes.
Gooding-Butler’s response was proof she is getting good at her new past time.
“Your neck isn’t too small for this piece of jewelry,” she recalled telling the customer.
Getting started was a bit of a challenge, said Gooding-Butler, who has been retired for 19 years. She could only find clothes racks out of town, until she followed up on a suggestion to try Sports Authority, which was going out of business at the time.
Then, the items which she described as “gently used” began to trickle in. Even some of her friends from her native Nashville sent items, she said.
She meticulously put her display in place, keeping a log of her inventory.
“I love the presentation,” said Wright, who saw a hat that she liked and promised to return to buy it. “I like the way she has it very organized. You go into a lot of second-hand stores and they make you look. But she was willing to get up to see if she had anything to accommodate me and I like that.”
Wright eventually went back to get the silver hat, but before she left on her first visit Gooding-Butler tried one last sales pitch. She encouraged Wright to check out the shoes collection. Her size wasn’t available.
While business might be a little slow less than month in, Gooding-Butler seemingly is enjoying every minute in her new store because of the opportunity to meet people.
“You could stay home for so long but then there is also a thing where you need that socialization; being able to get out and be around people,” she said. “To me that’s what it’s all about.”