FORT LORAMIE — Ask most teens what they’d do if they suddenly came into a lot of money — say, $50,000 — and it would be the rare young person who would answer, “I’d open my own business.”
Abbey Goubeaux, 19, of Minster, is that rare teen.
One Saturday night last September, on a whim, she bought a scratch-off lottery ticket at Wagner’s IGA in Fort Loramie.
“If you scratched off a star, you won that prize. I thought it said $50. Then when I saw that it said ‘$50 thou,’ I thought, ‘Oh my gosh!” Goubeaux said recently.
She invested some of the money in an IRA. A 2015 graduate of Minster High School and the Upper Valley Career Center in Piqua, she works as a licensed beautician at the Looking Glass Salon and Spa in Minster. Beauticians don’t get retirement benefits.
But the rest of the money went into establishing the Small Town Boutique, a ladies clothing store, at 15 Elm St., Fort Loramie.
“I love to go shopping. I love to buy clothes. And I love to help others meet their needs. I think if you have your hair done and your outfit, you’re ready to go,” Goubeaux said in addressing why her business is a boutique.
“Great fashion is a girl’s best friend,” her advertisements say. And owning her own business had been a goal for some time.
“My aunt owns a business. My uncles own businesses. I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said.
She got advice from a former business owner in Minster and went through many steps to get her doors open on Nov. 29.
“First, I found my building. Then I got a vendor’s license. That was a mistake. I got a license in Auglaize County because that’s where I live. Then I had to get one for Shelby County, because that’s where the store is,” she said.
She had looked at locations in Minster and New Bremen before renting the space in Fort Loramie. She registered to do business in Ohio and found a tax expert.
“I did this all behind my parents’ back,” Goubeaux, daughter of Vicky and Dan Goubeaux, laughed. “I’m gung ho, and my parents are ‘Let’s sit and think about this.’”
“We never took those leaps. Not at that age,” Vicky said. Once they were let in on the secret, the parents were nothing but supportive, however.
Dan laid new flooring and built walls for dressing rooms. The space had previously been home to a restaurant, Flavor on Elm. Dan turned what had been the kitchen into the dressing room area. Vicky helps out in the store when Abbey is at the Looking Glass Salon.
Abbey then got a logo designed and went searching for furnishings. Through a fellow beautician in Minster, she learned that a boutique in Troy had closed. The owner was happy to sell Goubeaux clothes racks and decorative items for the new boutique.
Online searches and a trip to a clothing show in Chicago got her the stock she needed to open. The Small Town Boutique carries dresses, slacks, jeans, tops, scarves, skirts, shorts, blazers, maxi dresses, rompers, leggings, camis and body shapers, costume jewelry, sunglasses, purses, wallets and essential oils. The clothes come in sizes small, medium, large, 1X through 3X and 1 through 22. Goubeaux purchases from 15 suppliers.
In May, she was approached by an online marketer, shoptiques.com, who said the business was a recommended boutique. As a result, Goubeaux sends clothing to New York to be photographed on live models and then sold on the shoptiques.com website. In the last two months, she has filled 15-20 orders and shipped from Fort Loramie to customers in Kansas, Missouri, New York and Illinois.
“We’re hoping that’s going to be our big thing,” said Vicky. To date, all the profit has been plowed back into the business. Goubeaux is learning as she goes.
“I’ve learned that money doesn’t go very far. I watch my money a lot more,” she said. “And I’ve learned that people really don’t want to have the same clothes as other people.”
“I’m surprised at the number of people who say they only shop in boutiques,” Vicky said.
Goubeaux’s biggest challenge has been to make sure she has styles for women of all ages, not just young people. She seems to be successful at meeting that challenge. The inviting shop offers items that are attractive across the age and size spectrum.
The young owner is “pretty happy” with the way the business is developing.
“It’s a lot of work,” she said. “You don’t get to do the things a 19-year-old would do. I don’t get as much free time as I would like. But I love to work. I don’t like to sit and watch TV.”
The Small Town Boutique is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For information, call 937-420-2327.