ELIDA — The owner of a new thrift store on Baty Road hopes she can fill a need for affordable used clothing amid the pandemic recession and years-long decline of retail in Lima.
Flippin Fabulous, located in the Elida Business Complex at the corner of Baty and East roads near TJ’s Pizza, opened this June, just weeks after Ohio’s stay-at-home order was lifted. The coronavirus restrictions and subsequent recession have taken a toll on the new business, like many others, but owner Crystal Ryan is optimistic that sales will improve as more customers seek out affordable clothing amid the uncertainty surrounding the economy.
“People aren’t spending the way that they would outside of the pandemic,” Ryan said.
The store carries a variety of new and gently used brand-name clothes, in both men’s and women’s, from newborn sizes to adult 6X, along with shoes and accessories.
Ryan shops around for popular brands like Nike, Under Armour and Jordan, often traveling around Ohio and out of state stores to find brands not typically available in Lima. But she buys much of her inventory directly from customers, following the model of other thrift stores like Plato’s Closet that pay cash for gently used clothes.
Ryan, who spent the past 20 years in the restaurant industry, left her job as general manager of J. Marie’s restaurant in Wapakoneta this spring to open Flippin Fabulous.
It was a risky decision made all the more complicated by the events of 2020. But Ryan had dreamed for years to open her own restaurant, which eventually evolved into a dream to open a thrift store in what seemed at the time to be a safer investment.
Twelve weeks in, she said business is picking up as her store gains more name recognition in Lima. And as it is often said in business, the first year is always the hardest.
“It’s a lot more grueling than what it would have been if I would have opened at a different time,” she said. “I’m hoping it gets better.”