A business that started with no money down and one fancy purse has snowballed in seven months into a women’s clothing resale store owned by two friends — both military veterans — who share a love and knowledge of “thrifting.”
Behind the White Door LLC, in Shelocta, is owned by Lisa Krouse-Gayarski, of Indiana, and Lisa Stahl, of Clymer.
Krouse-Gayarski and Stahl, who were neighbors and both single mothers years ago, used to go “thrifting” together to find clothes and “make the best of it,” said Krouse-Gayarski.
Krouse-Gayarski started the business online a week before the pandemic hit, purchasing items that caught her eye at area thrift stores and reselling the merchandise online through Facebook.
Then all the thrift stores closed.
She put the word out online that she was looking for donations, since people were stuck at home and cleaning out their closets but couldn’t offload their items to thrift stores, as most stores weren’t taking donations.
“Every day I would get up and there would be bags upon bags on my porch,” she said.
She sold the items through online listings on a private Behind the White Door 2020 Facebook page using no-contact drop-offs or mail shipping.
“I was really shocked at how fast the business grew,” said Krouse-Gayarski, who started by selling one Coach purse purchased with a discount at a thrift store and now has an inventory of about 2,000 items.
Merchandise at the store includes tops, bottoms, boots, shoes, hats, scarves and other accessories such as sunglasses and jewelry. Clothing is available in sizes zero to 22.
“We keep the prices low because we want everybody to be able to come and get something pretty,” she said.
One thing you won’t find at Behind the White Door: polyester “old lady clothes,” said Krouse-Gayarski, who works full time at the store, while Stahl additionally has a career in nursing.
“If I think it’s ugly, I’m not even bringing it into my store,” she said.
Krouse-Gayarski pays attention to new and classic styles and stays current with national trends.
She loves classic looks, like denim and paisley, as well as “bold and quirky” items that catch her eye.
Nothing is priced at more than $14.99.
The target audience is “people who don’t have a lot of money but still want to add pieces to their clothing line,” Krouse-Gayarski said.
That philosophy comes from a time when she and Stahl were younger and trying to raise their children on their own.
They would look for nicer clothes at area giveaways and thrift stores, and amassed “a very nice closet of clothes for ourselves,” because “if you dress to impress, you basically get some self-esteem,” she said.
“It’s not about the money,” Krouse-Gayarski said. More so, it’s about “helping somebody else get something for next to nothing.”
For now, the store accepts cash, Paypal and Venmo. There is free parking and a changing room to try on clothes.
Krouse-Gayarski said she spends about two to three hours a day three days per week thrifting to procure items for the store.
She and Stahl know where and when the special sales are and she calls it “a process,” saying in total it takes about 40 hours or more to do the thrifting, inventory and describe the items, price, take and post photos and pack it up.
As the business grows, Krouse-Gayarski hopes to write a companion blog about fashion, and she said Stahl will start selling name-brand items through Poshmark.
Krouse-Gayarski’s retirement dream is to eventually own an RV to travel and sell clothes on the road.
The pair eventually also wants to “help women who are down and out and don’t have anything,” she said.
They are also “always on the lookout to help veterans,” as Krouse-Gayarski served in the Air Force, and Stahl in the Army.
The store is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from 1 to 6 p.m. Wednesday and Saturdays. It is closed Sunday.
The address is 9499 Route 422 West, Suite 15.
It’s the only white door on the building, and that white door has a special meaning for Krouse-Gayarski.
She suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and said she ended up homeless at one point as a result. She was re-homed through a veterans’ agency, getting an apartment with a white door.
“The white door was my protection,” she said.
As she learned to cope, that white door became something else: the way back outside.
“It became my way to go out into the world and make a difference,” she said.