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Boutique opens in Gas City

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WISPY:Amanda Shields opened The Wispy Pine Boutique Saturday.
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SALON:The salon is open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.
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ALL SIZES:The Wispy Pine Boutique offers sizes S to 3XL.

by Grace Hooley - ghooley@chronicle-tribune.com

The Wispy Pine Boutique in Gas City had its grand opening Saturday, Nov. 2.

Owner and sole employee Amanda Shields opened the online store in February, but the business started in December of 2018. She had received comments from customers asking for a physical store to shop in and try on clothing.

“This is our little shop, our little labor of love here,” Shields said.

Growing up in Gas City, Shields said she always played with clothing and journaled outfits in her notebooks, but after graduating from Mississinewa High School, she went to Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) to become a dental hygienist. She then earned her master’s in management from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2013.

Shields worked as a dental hygienist for 12 years before having back issues that caused her to start thinking about what she could do that would be less physically demanding.

“It was like, a boutique sounds fun,” Shields said. “I started looking it up, and I didn’t know how to do any of this stuff. I just started it, and it just grew.”

To launch the local store, Shields partnered with small businesses in the area such as Mama Pearson’s and A New Leaf. Mama Pearson’s has also been a mentor of sorts to the Wispy Pine, according to Shields.

During the grand opening, Shields said approximately 300 people came to support the new business.

“Our grand opening was Saturday, and it was amazing,” Shields said. “The community support that we had, it was overwhelming in a good way. We had hundreds of people in here.”

Along with small businesses in the area, the Wispy Pine also partners with local vendors in Hartford City for some of the jewelry and earrings they carry.

The clothing comes from larger vendors and corporations, but Shields has still found a way to keep the boutique’s selection diverse and inviting.

“But it’s neat because there’s thousands of clothes, so you get to pick the style you like,” Shields said. “So that’s why each boutique that you see has different styles because there’s so much for us to choose from. I also travel a lot, so I will bring in little pieces when I travel sometimes, which gives a little part of me to the store too.”

The store welcomes all ages and demographics, offering sizes small through three extra-large. And while Shields could not start out the business offering plus sizes, her goal was always to be inclusive of all women.

When buying clothing, packages are only offered from small to large or small to extra large, Shields said, with the plus sizes coming separately. For the past three months, the store has carried three racks of plus-size clothing, and Shields plans to continue growing this selection until the store is 50/50.

“So, when we first started, we always had the vision we wanted to add all sizes, we just can’t at the moment,” Shields said. “The feedback from the women was, ‘You need plus. You need plus. You need plus.’”

Wispy Pine offers sizes five and a half to ten in shoes, and it only carries two of every size in each clothing item. Once the clothing is sold out, Shields said she rarely restocks it to keep the community’s style unique.

Over the past year, there were only three items restocked because women in the community were asking for it, she said.

“We don’t want something where everybody’s wearing the same thing,” Shields said.

The Wispy Pine includes a salon in the back of the store. Shields bought the building from Sue Jacks, who owned the building and the salon inside. Jacks met with her and loved her vision so much that she sold to Shields, asking if her and her stylist Caitlin Stump could stay and continue doing hair. Shields agreed, and she believes the salon adds a steady flow of people during the day.

Because the salon is not open Monday or Wednesday, Shields shaped the Wispy Pine’s hours around this, keeping the store open Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“It’s just fun because it’s like a community thing,” Shields said.

With the help of her cousin Tiffany Griffith, who had 12 years of experience in retail working at Maurice’s, Shields said she was able to market the online and physical store to women in the area.

While Shields worries from time to time about the business doing well in a small town, she said she is not focusing on that. She hopes Gas City continues to invest in small businesses and boutiques like hers.

“We’re just excited to be a part of the community, and we hope people support us and come and have fun in our little space here,” Shields said.