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Resale Shop Offers Outfits for Any Occasion

Owner trying to weather financial storm following COVID-19 pandemic

By Elizabeth Laughlin
The Tube City Almanac
September 28, 2022
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Courtesy YOUnique Boutique (Via Facebook)

For owner Stephanie Smalls, opening a business in McKeesport was unexpected.

“Even I was shocked to be there,” Smalls said. “But I asked, ‘Which way should I go, Lord?’ And that’s where I ended up.”

In 2013, Stephanie Smalls decided to leave her job in the corporate world and start her own business. That’s when she and her daughter, Jazmine, opened YOUnique Boutique, located in the Masonic Building at 522 Walnut St. They are not originally from the McKeesport area, but the location was affordable.

Whether YOUnique Boutique can survive much longer, however, is a question. Smalls said the store took a big financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I worked for 25 years in the corporate world,” Smalls said. “But this is what I always wanted to do. I’ve always appreciated thrift shopping.”

Courtesy YOUnique Boutique (Via Facebook)

YOUnique Boutique sells lightly used apparel and accessories for women. Its products are for women of all ages, ranging from 18-80. The store emphasizes individuality and self-expression, telling its customers that “it doesn’t take much to feel nice and look pretty.”

Smalls especially appreciates working with her customers and helping them feel confident in their style. She wants the experience to give her customers a “self-esteem boost.”

She considered the opportunity to open a business as a way to reinvent herself.

Smalls hopes that the store can remain open and survive financial losses from the pandemic. She still wants to help women find the right outfit and feel confident.

“Anything in your wardrobe, I have it,” Smalls said. “Younique Boutique tries to service any woman for any occasion.”

She also talked about the affordability of her products. “Some people see our display windows and think we’re expensive,” Smalls said. “But you’d be surprised. Everyone and anyone can walk in.”

Currently, YOUnique Boutique does not have a large online presence or e-commerce, although they are active on Facebook. Smalls would like to get a business website developed and stream live on Facebook.

Smalls and her daughter each work separate full-time jobs, so Younique Boutique does not have a set schedule. As a result, they run the store when they can.

“I apologize that our operating hours are inconsistent,” Smalls said. “COVID had us shut down for almost two years, so we can’t afford employees.”

To contact YOUnique Boutique, call (412) 871-8746.

Elizabeth Laughlin is a freelance writer and a doctoral student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She is a graduate assistant who runs the department newsletter and writes for a digital project. She writes for Modern Language Studies, and her short story, "Twenty-Seven," is being published in their journal.

Originally published September 28, 2022.

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