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Business Spotlight: Rolling into Brick & Mortar

Bree’s Little Closet opens a storefront in addition to the traveling boutique

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Bree’s Little Closet LLC, a 3-year-old traveling boutique run by mother-daughter duo Tina and Brianna Barnett, is on the move to a brick-and-mortar store.

Brianna worked at a boutique during her high school and college years, and fashion is something she’s always been interested in.

“I kind of got a feel for the boutique world, fell in love with it and wanted to leave and make a name for myself,” she says.

Brianna started by selling women’s apparel, gifts and accessories out of a renovated tool truck she would station at different locations in the Springfield area. Now, the venture has graduated to add the store. It opened Jan. 31 at 1607 W. Republic Road, a space the Barnetts took over from the shuttered MarGorgeous Boutique.

Starting up the truck 
At age 19, Brianna says being able to afford her own brick-and-mortar shop didn’t seem possible, so she had to get a little creative.

She found a traveling boutique concept on Pinterest and teamed up with her mother to remodel a 30-year-old tool truck into the shop. Tina says it was a big project that spanned nine months.

“We replaced everything under the hood, except for the engine,” she says.

They painted the truck, affixed a custom decal, and tore out and revamped the inside. Between purchasing the truck and the remodeling and maintenance, the Barnetts invested about $35,000 before opening.

“A lot of sweat and tears went into it,” Brianna says. “I am very thankful for it, but we tell people we would probably do it a little differently looking back.”

Park and sell
Once the truck, aka Bree’s Little Closet, was ready, they had to find a spot to park and sell.

Brianna says they have opened their doors at a variety of places, including large community events, such as the farmers market on Commercial Street and the Branson Market Days vendors show. 

Tina had a career in teaching, which helped the pair establish a niche sales market with public school teachers. Tina says other teachers who are still friends thought it would be fun to have Bree’s Little Closet available for shopping during lunch or after school. 

“That has really been one of our biggest customers for shopping,” she says.

Brianna says she found it a good fit for teachers who don’t always have a lot of free time to go shopping after work. 

“It’s one of my favorite places to park,” she says. “The teachers would come out to shop, even if it was just 15 minutes. They get to go out of school and have a little mental break. We now have some schools that book us monthly.”

Last year’s sales grew by 35% compared with 2020, Brianna says, declining to disclose annual volumes. 

Product sourcing
Fitting into a small shop means being selective on how many items can fit, and the truck’s shopping space is about 8 feet by 20 feet. 

“We just have a smaller quantity than some larger stores,” Brianna says. “When opening, we wanted to utilize the space as much as possible. We have six different racks inside the truck, and we will try to fill that up with as much clothing as we can. We also have shelves for jeans, purses, jewelry and knickknack items.”

To fit a bit more inside during good weather, the Barnetts also would pack in rolling racks that could be set outside the truck when it was parked. They order product from around 25 wholesale companies.

Wes Stoner, owner of Nuff Said Tees & More! in Branson, is one of the suppliers for Bree’s Little Closet. He says it’s not uncommon for boutiques, whether it’s brick-and-mortar or mobile, to order items in small quantities. Stoner says the Barnetts mainly order heat-pressed shirts, such as logo wear and a line themed on “The Office” TV show.

He says Bree’s Little Closet orders 12-20 items of each product per quarter, a few in each size.

Full circle
In the new storefront, Bree’s Little Closet is housing other vendors – currently about 10. Brianna says some are by consignment and others are renting a specific spot. 

Vendors pay either 25% of sales for the consignment deal or $50-$150 per month plus an additional 5% of their sales for rented space, Tina says.

Tasha Adams, owner of Hickory Lane Plants LLC, is one of Bree’s Little Closet’s vendors. Adams is a consignment vendor with products sprinkled throughout the store. Adams also has a traveling shop and parked alongside Bree’s Little Closet for the last three years.

“We complement each other really well because we don’t sell the same things. Their customers come for them but also shop with me and vice versa,” Adams says. “It’s a symbiotic relationship.”

In addition to her consignment space, Adams has her own brick-and-mortar shop and her traveling store. She says it’s all about product visibility. 

“Getting that one extra person who may not have heard of you and then they tell their friends or family, that can be an extra 10 customers that come in during the week,” she says.

As for Bree’s Little Closet’s visibility in the market, Brianna says she’ll continue to keep the truck on the streets. They’re planning a storefront grand opening event March 1.

With this second phase of their business, the Barnetts say they kept startup costs at a minimum – helped by the fact they were taking over a store that just needed a little redesign. The ongoing expenses are estimated at around $2,000 a month.

Interestingly, Brianna says as a teenager she worked at MarGorgeous Boutique, the same spot she’s taking over.

“It’s kind of come full circle,” she says.

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