APOLLO BEACH — Wee Boutique is not your mother’s consignment store. Adorned in a circus theme, with hand-painted murals, there is much more under the big top than a thrifty shopper might expect.
Six months ago, Wee Boutique opened its doors to cost-conscious South Shore moms and grandmothers looking for children’s clothes, toys and accessories, who didn’t want to drive to Brandon. Owner Mandy Cassiano, mother of two, recognized the need and opened the shop to address it.
“I wanted to open a business that had something to do with kids,” she said. “I used to do a lot of consignment shopping. I love to save money and believe in recycling.”
Wee Boutique’s mission is, “Save time, save money and save the planet.”
Its clean, colorful, open layout isn’t your ordinary consignment store. Shoppers can find ample like-new quality clothes for infants and children up to size 10, toys, books, DVDs, shoes, bedding and bedroom accessories.
But it’s the boutique-like items that make this store distinctive. Cassiano is proud to display new clothes and accessories hand-made by 17 local vendors. Items include skirts and dresses, crafty hair bows, innovative pacifier clips, personalized embroidered burp clothes, teething blankets and creative “dribble” bibs. And for the wee ones who like to play dress-up, Cassiano carries imaginative tutus and costume capes. She also has dolls. Even “baby” gets to play in style.
It’s not just moms who visit Wee Boutique. Grandmothers know a good deal when they see one, too.
“About half of our customers are grandparents,” Cassiano said. “I had one customer who came right over after she found out she was going to have her first grandchild. She bought a pack-n-play and several outfits. She was just so excited to shop.”
First-time customer Kim Raatz, recently shopped for her granddaughter.
“The store is great and the only one in the area,” said Raatz. “Grandmas like to buy things for when the kids come over.”
Shoppers aren’t the only ones who love Wee Boutique. Cassiano currently has 226 consignors who bring in their children’s outgrown clothes, toys and books. And the list of those who recognize the opportunity to make some money grows daily.
“Consigners, for the most part, make more money than having a yard sale, without the hassle,” Cassiano said. “Items are priced at about half-off retail, and consigners receive 50 percent of the sale price.”
When accepting items, Cassiano and her staff look at the quality, brand and age of the product to determine prices.
Due to the store’s popularity, Cassiano is already planning Wee Boutique’s expansion next month.
“I’m running out of room,” said Cassiano. “The store has exceeded my expectations. So we’ll have a new drop-off center and place to display larger items.”
The storefront next door was available and Cassiano jumped on it in anticipation of Wee Boutique’s continued growth. The additional 900 square feet will provide room to accept and sort consignment items and showcase cribs, children’s furniture, rocking chairs, strollers and large toys.
In addition, Cassiano sees another unique need in the community, something she is calling “Wee-Bay,” to help customers sell children’s clothes, accessories and well-cared-for dolls on eBay.
“Not everyone knows how to sell items on eBay or has the time,” she said. “And many people don’t feel secure selling on Craig slist. There are some women with extensive doll collections and they just don’t know what to do with them or can’t imagine the cash value of the items. As a service, we can help customers price and post their items on eBay.”
The Apollo Beach Chamber of Commerce recently recognized Cassiano and Wee Boutique as its “Business of the Week.” The store is located at 6122 U.S. 41 N., Apollo Beach. Current hours are 10 a.m. through 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Summer hours, which begin May 1, will be 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Interested in consigning items? Call Wee Boutique at (813) 645-4569 for appointment times.
Elaine Speer is a freelance writer who can be reached at [email protected]