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East Peoria Times-Courier - East Peoria, IL
  • Local couple opens Tootzie's Consignment & Boutique in East Peoria

  • A new business venture fell into the laps of a local couple recently.

    Shawn and Stephanie Edwards of Washington opened Tootzie’s Consignment & Boutique at 4001 E. Washington Road Oct. 1. They will celebrate a grand opening Nov. 17.
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  • A new business venture fell into the laps of a local couple recently.
    Shawn and Stephanie Edwards of Washington opened Tootzie’s Consignment & Boutique at 4001 E. Washington Road Oct. 1. They will celebrate a grand opening Nov. 17.
    The new business shares space in a building where Tropics hair salon is located. Diane Shelley owns the building.
    Stephanie said she gets her hair cut at Tropics and learned through Shelley that space was available for rent in the building. Not only was the space available where a former consignment shop was located, The Tot Shop needed a new owner and operator as well.
    Joellen Smith, who ran The Tot Shop for almost 17 years, retired.
    “We’ve always talked about opening a store,” said Shawn, who also works for a plumbing company.
    “We came and looked at it and we got it,” Stephanie, a former stay-at-home mom, said. “It fell in our lap truly.”
    The Edwards are no strangers to shopping at consignment shops. The couple has four grade-school-aged children and they shop frequently for clothes. In fact, they often purchased clothes at The Tot Shop, the same business they now own.
    Since The Tot Shop fell in their laps in addition to opening Tootzie’s, Stephanie said, “That’s when you know it’s right. It’s like it was meant to be.”
    The Edwards officially took over The Tot Shop Nov. 1.
    “I’m just excited. The response we’ve gotten so far is unbelievable,” Stephanie said.
    The moment the Edwards accepted their new venture, they were both on their phones spreading the news.
    Initially, Shawn said he was concerned they would not have enough merchandise to fill their shelves, but the shop was filled within one week. Friends and family donated clothes to help out.
    The Tot Shop was sold with the merchandise (children’s clothing) already stocked inside the store.
    Tootzie’s carries mostly women’s clothing along with some clothing for men. They also carry accessories, such as shoes, scarves, purses, perfume and jewelry.
    “You have to be picky. You have to watch your brands. You kind of have to cater to everyone and we realize that,” Stephanie said.
    Knowing what brands are popular comes naturally to Stephanie, she said, from shopping. If she does come across a brand she doesn’t recognize, she looks it up on the Internet.
    The Edwards are not trying to target one age group with their clothing selections.
    “We have teens come in and wonderful grandmas that come in and look,” Stephanie said.
    Page 2 of 2 - The way the consignment works is a person pays $5 per year and there is a 50/50 split for merchandise that is sold. Shawn said he will cut checks at the beginning of the month. If a consignor does not sell an item after three months they can choose to donate the clothing or pick it up. Stephanie said she would like to start a program to donate clothes to women who need outfits for job interviews.
    Currently, the Edwards have about 30 consignors. Those bringing in clothes to sell at the shop must make an appointment.
    “Otherwise we get no sleep,” Shawn said.
    “There’s been times we’ve been her until 1, 2 o’clock in the morning,” Stephanie added.
    The Edwards have already experienced some challenges in their new venture. Shawn said one woman brought in 300 clothing items which made for a late night. At other times they couldn’t get clothes tagged fast enough before they sold.
    But, the Edwards are happy and excited.
    “To be your own boss and have the American dream is an amazing feeling,” Stephanie said.
    Stephanie likes to tease her husband, saying he is the more feminine one. He came up with a purple sign with hearts on it for the business. Shawn said his friends tease him as well because he likes shopping for clothes.
    “I like fashion,” Shawn said, showing off his Adidas jacket he bought at his own shop.
    “I like shopping consignment because you can get the same stuff at stores but it’s a lot cheaper,” he said.
    Tootzie’s and The Tot Shop will be open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. The phone number for Tootzie’s is 648-7231 or 839-6737. The phone number for The Tot Shop is 699-4174.

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