When it cones to bargain hunting, sisters Brooke Giresi and Jerica M’Larkey will go the extra mile to find a great deal. “Brooke and I have been huge ‘thrifters’ our whole lives,” Jerica says. “We have gone on a trip – we call it our thrift tour – for each of the past five years. It’s not business-related. It’s just fun for us. We go across Ontario from store to store. We love the hunt.”
Now the bargain hunters are making it easier for other like-minded shoppers to find great deals when it comes to dressing their children. Their Sarnia-based store Sweet Lemons Boutique, is a popular hunting ground for children’s clothes and accessories. “We started the store because of our love for thrifting,” Jerica says. “But we also know that textile waste is a huge problem and we wanted to help slow it down. The goal of our store is to prolong the lifecycle of quality clothes. We wanted to help switch people’s mindsets when it comes to shopping. We have always shopped second hand and we wanted to give people in our community the opportunity to do that as well. With our store, it doesn’t necessarily feel like you are shopping for second-hand clothes.” Adds Brooke: “We call our store a curated thrift shop.”
Jerica and Brooke have worked very hard to make the shopping experience at Sweet Lemons Boutique a pleasurable experience. “When you come into our store, although everything is second-hand, the store has a real boutique vibe about it, so it doesn’t feel like a thrift store or a second-hand store,” Brooke says. “Sometimes people will come in and after looking around, say, ‘Hey, wait a minute, is all of this used?’ We make sure everything is displayed nicely. Our store is very well organized, both the boys’ side and the girls’ side. Things are divided into categories such as pants and t-shirts and then each one of those sections is set up by size and colour. It is very easy to shop and it always smells delicious in our store.”
Brooke and Jerica are delighted to once again welcome customers into the store, having relied heavily on online sales during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were only in business for a year and a half when the pandemic hit,” Brooke says. “We had to deal with things we couldn’t possibly have seen coming. It was challenging, but we grew through all the hardships.” Sweet Lemons hopes to eventually hire someone to manage their website; to photograph all of the clothes they purchase before they go out to the floor. Sweet Lemons carries clothes from newborn to Size 12 Youth and they now purchase clothes every day they are open.
In the meantime, Brooke and Jerica will continue to develop relationships with their regular customers, something that brings them great joy. “Our goal is to create a space where parents can come to shop for their kids and find affordable, quality brands,” Jerica says. “We want to create a boutique experience without typical boutique prices. We want to create a space where friends can come and shop comfortably.”