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Young biz owner doing well with Fondren vintage boutique

Jackson — Even from the outside, the Orange Peel is colorful and unconventional at its North State Street location in the Fondren area. The bright orange peels of the logo are painted on the building. Started last July by a young entrepreneur, the vintage consignment boutique is right at home in this part of town where there are yellow and pink painted store fronts.

“It’s a great area. We all try to incorporate color. There are no plain Janes here. I wouldn’t have opened up anywhere else. It would not have worked,” said owner Kristen Tubb, 24. “This is the best part of town. Shoppers can walk from store to store.”

The Chicago native who moved to Jackson at age 15 got the idea for the shop while living briefly in St. Louis where she shopped in a similar store. “I always loved old clothes and going to my grandmother’s house and trying on her old hats, gloves and other things,” she said. “With these funky, vintage clothes you don’t look like everyone else.”

However, Tubb did not copy the St. Louis store but imprinted her own stamp on the retro Fondren vintage boutique. She was managing a Fine Eyes optical store in Ridgeland when she made the decision to become a small business owner.

She says there’s really no good story behind the shop’s unusual name. It’s just something she came up with while brainstorming and staring at a wall painted orange. “It just seemed to fit and I knew people would wonder ‘what are they selling?’” she said.

At that time, a 1,300-square-foot building became available in Fondren that Tubb knew would be ideal for what she had in mind. She was only 23 years old then and the building owner was a bit hesitant and wanted a business plan.

“I was persistent and called every day. After all, I’m from Chicago,” Tubb says. “I feel blessed that I was able to get the building. The shop is doing well and now I’m expanding with an additional 1,700 square feet of space to sell retro furniture.”

In the vintage consignment boutique, Tubb sells clothes that people bring in on a 50/50 basis. She keeps the clothes on consignment for two months and pays the consignees once a month. There’s no shortage of available clothes. Before opening, Tubb received 95 calls of inquiry from one ad.

“At first I didn’t want to hurt people’s feelings when they brought in clothes,” she said. “Now they know what I’m looking for and many times I put a sign on the door saying I can’t take any more.”

The Orange Peel specializes in vintage clothes, anything from the 1930s to 1980s. Friends look for these clothes for her and she also buys some in St. Louis and Chicago. In addition to clothes, there are quirky old hats, wigs, handbags, shoes and lots of costume jewelry. The jewelry is a big seller. Gift certificates are available.

“There are a lot of college students in the area who are on limited budgets,” said Tubb. “And, I want all people to leave feeling they got a good deal.”

The colorful shop with its orange, blue and yellow paint is a visual feast with rugs, artwork and decorative pieces. Tubb has been told it’s sort of like walking into an orange. There’s even an orange sofa. She decided to sell furniture after a customer tried to buy the sofa.

The young business owner was thrilled when an adjacent space became vacant and convinced her dad, Randy Murry, to become her partner in the new venture. “I told him we have to do it while there’s space available. There’s no way I’ll get this space later,” she said. “He loves estate sales and this will be a hobby for him.”

Her husband, Darin, a public school teacher in Madison, is a major part of the business, too. He is getting the addition ready with paint, carpet and counters as he did the original space. Kristen Tubb says he does everything, including upholstery and artwork. Two wall murals have been painted by local artists, William Goodman and Ginger Williams.

The furniture annex will be open by the first of March. Retro furniture, lamps and accessories along with a men’s clothing section will be featured here. Furniture from the ‘40s to the ‘70s will come from estate sales and consignments but will remain in the shop only one month.

As a member of Fondren Renaissance, Tubb participates in the monthly Art Mix the first Thursday of each month. She plans to have a band playing in the new part of the Orange Peel on March 2.

“I want people to have a cool place to go, and I like to keep changing up the store so they see different things,” she says. “I’m fortunate to see I need to do this before I have children. I want to get this business going and hire full-time help before I have children.”

While she recognizes the need for taking business advice from those with experience, she also feels she must follow her own instincts and heart. “I like coming to work every day and I’m excited about what I’m doing,” she said. “My goals are to keep having fun doing it and to keep paying the bills.”

Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

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