Photo by Toni Lovato.
Many of the Triangle’s fashion enthusiasts know how difficult it can be to find unique and affordable clothing that can’t be found in a traditional shopping mall. Whether it’s a vintage Members Only jacket, or a t-shirt from a favorite obscure punk band, Rumors Thrift Boutique has risen to be a stand out, one-stop shop for fashionable young adults on a budget.
Rumors was started by best friends and business partners, Casey Longyear and Marshe Wyche. The two met by chance eight years ago while both living in Richmond, VA and almost immediately began brainstorming a way to pair their passion for fashion with Richmond’s booming artistic culture. Word traveled throughout Richmond about the possibility of the two 21-year old women opening a new clothing store, inspiring the name Rumors. Within six months, Longyear and Wyche opened the first Rumors boutique.
Rumors began as an independent boutique that offered pieces from local designers, as well as products from exclusive international lines from several countries around the world. Because they were selling items that couldn’t be found anywhere remotely close to Richmond, their price points were inevitably higher. Business was not booming like the owners initially hoped, so they decided to switch up their approach by beginning to sell their personal items for profit at a lower cost. When that proved to be lucrative, the owners finally had the idea to offer thrift options, emerging as Richmond’s first thrift boutique. Finally, Longyear and Wyche had created the momentum they needed to keep their business afloat.
After spending five years at their original location, Longyear and Wyche received the news from their landlord that he planned to use their space to open a yogurt shop, giving the duo only a month to clear out. Devastated by the news, the two were determined to keep their creation alive. Through a random encounter with a man who witnessed them moving mannequins out of the building, Longyear was offered a brand new space for half the price of the original and pounced on it. Within two weeks, they opened at a new building in Richmond. Impressed by their ability to move in such a short period of time, Longyear and Wyche became confident that they could do it again in a whole new city.
Longyear, who was on a random shopping trip for records at All Day Records in Carrboro, quickly found herself enamored by its charm. While coincidentally researching several southeast cities in business publications, Chapel Hill kept finding its way onto Longyear’s radar. The appeal of the college crowd on top of the growing amount of empty storefronts in Chapel Hill gave her the motivation to call this new city home. In September of 2013, the second Rumors opened its doors for business.
Stylistically, Rumors offers clothing that doesn’t cater to any specific aesthetic but every piece manages to keep a vintage edge, which reflects the owners’ personal taste. The spectrum ranges from preppy to goth, but it is important for Longyear and Wyche not to lean too far on either end. “You can walk in and become whoever you want to be and if you don’t like who you are as that person, you can sell it back and be someone new tomorrow,” Longyear said about the vision of the store. Upon opening in Chapel Hill, an initial concern was how well the merchandise would adapt in a southern college town. Luckily, customers quickly latched onto the concept because it allows them to purchase edgier fashion trends, while avoiding the higher price points found at places like Urban Outfitters.
Because the location of the store is so close to Chapel Hill’s very prominent Franklin Street, it is important for the owners to give back to the close-knit community as often as possible. The owners make a point not to only offer clothing from local fashion designers and vintage sellers, but also showcase the work of several local artists within the store. Additionally, Rumors offers 20 percent of their sales to a local cause or non-profit bi-weekly through a program known as Shop For a Reason. The store’s active pursuit of these opportunities helps define their purpose in the community.
With their Instagram consistently gaining followers by the day, Rumors’ free method marketing approach has given the store an impetus to continue to thrive. Next on the agenda is the opening of a brand new store in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami within the next year. Also, the development of both menswear and plus-size lines are in the works. Because the business is owned and ran by women, Rumors wants to continue to support the community by empowering young women through partnerships with non-profits in the area.