'Lulu': For Moms, by Moms. Sort Of
Pregnant with inspiration, and babies, Joan Moore and Keely Wrigley opened Lulu in March 2011.
Pregnant women are known to get peculiar impulses: Ice cream and pickles, olives on cheesecake; even dangerous cravings for chalk, clay, and cigarette butts are well documented in the literature. So when Joan Moore and Keely Wrigley were expecting, their husbands might have been relieved to learn they just wanted to open a consignment shop.
That they weren’t apparently didn’t do much to derail the girls’ plans. The pair delivered in March of 2011. The name they chose: Lulu Boutique & Gifterie.
“We were two friends who has no idea what we were doing. We were both pregnant at the time and, honestly, we kind of did it on a whim,” Moore, 32, admitted from behind the counter of her 10 S. Main Street shop on Tuesday.
“Our husbands may have tried to talk us out of it, but we’re both pretty strong personalities.”
You get the distinct sense her modesty is false. With thick frame glasses and dark bangs that hang mid-brow–she has the aspect of Velma Dinkley, if Velma Dinkley had an elaborate multi-colored sleeve tattoo above her right elbow–she looks like the sort of person who knows exactly what she’s doing behind the counter of a vintage clothing boutique.
Moore–who left her job as a wedding planner to launch Lulu and raise her now one-year-old son (Wrigley works in a research lab at Johnson & Johnson and is now into her fourth pregnancy)–said the idea of opening a boutique has been with her since grade school but didn’t take form until she and her friend began selling used clothing out of a salon her sister owns in Fishtown.
“It kinda started like that, and then Keely said, ‘Oh my God. We should do something,’” Moore explained. And so they did.
The Thing They Did carries, by one journalist’s quick count of inventory, dresses, blouses, skirts, handbags, purses, costume jewelry, candles, vintage wine glasses, and knit onesies for children. Moore and Wrigley sell some items on consignment, but buy most of their merchandise directly from customers.
“I’ll put anything in the store, as long as it’s interesting and cute,” Moore added.
As for pricing, she says about 90 percent of her stock retails at $20 or under, but some of the vintage gowns can run at upwards of $200.
“They’re worth it,” Moore shrugged. “They’re one of a kind pieces you're not going to find anywhere else.”
And business has been good. But while Moore says that in the year-plus since they’ve been open her customers have been wonderful, she adds that they have, in some ways, frustrated her expectations. In place of the aggressively cool young literary people she thought she’d draw to her shop, most of Lulu’s patrons have been...moms.
“When we first opened I thought we would have the 20-something hipsters coming in, but the mid-30s to mid-40s moms have been our biggest customers,” she said before pausing, as though working through something that just occurred to her.
“I guess that’s what we are.”