“If I picked up this store and dropped it in South Charlotte, it’d be a million-dollar store,” says Traci Bullock, the manager of Great Things, a resale boutique on Beatties Ford Road. She is justifiably proud of the shop, which generates revenue that supports transitional housing for homeless women.
The shop sells high-quality clothing, perfume, jewelry, handbags, home décor and houseware items at discounted rates. Much of the clothing comes from Clothes Mentor, a popular national consignment shop chain with two locations in Charlotte and one in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Last year, Great Things donated $40,000 to My Sister’s House Transitional Living Center. But due to the Covid-19 stay-at-home order, store operations and donations have come to a halt — 80% of its donations come from Clothes Mentor, which also closed due to the pandemic.
It was always part of the roadmap to add e-commerce, Bullock said, but Covid-19 forced the store’s management to aggressively move up the timeline, and they hope to make online shopping available by the end of April.
Working toward independent living
My Sister’s House is a transitional housing program for single, homeless women where they reside while working or attending school — and working toward independent living, according to its website.
“My Sister’s House is a holistic program that supports mental and physical health, provides legal support, helps point the women to self-sufficiency, and speaks to their spiritual growth,” says Ramona Holloway, co-host of The Matt and Ramona Show, who also volunteers at Great Things. “They look out for folks on the West Side,” she adds.
Women residing in My Sister’s House are allowed to shop for free, and once they transition to their own housing, Great Things provides items to help make their new spaces feel like home. In the evenings, the store puts out a free box of items for folks on the West Side from all walks of life.
Great Things also partners with organizations such as the Urban League of Central Carolinas and the Department of Social Services to provide free clothing for interviews and other needs.
“Bullock has a fantastic relationship with Clothes Mentor, and her relationships are really what make this place special,” Holloway said.
Making plans to compete online
Bullock, a lifelong westside resident, isn’t new to adversity, and she is made for this work.
Growing up, Bullock’s father owned WB Bullock Photography on Beatties Ford Road. She inherited his entrepreneurial spirit and, a few decades ago, opened a consignment shop in Dilworth called “Second Time Around.” After that store closed, she heard that the Friendship Community Development Corporation (FCDC) would be opening a resale boutique, and she applied successfully to manage it. Bullock believes that by managing Great Things she is continuing her father’s legacy of giving back to the West Side community.
“Beatties Ford is like your MLK in any other neighborhood. It’s the nucleus of Charlotte, the main thoroughfare. It’s the road to everywhere in the city. More people ride the #7 bus than any other bus line in Charlotte. We are worthy of having (this city) invest in us,” says Bullock.
Once a booming corridor of Black businesses, Great Things is currently one of a few remaining clothiers on the West Side thoroughfare. Eventually, they plan to sell items via Facebook and Instagram, two platforms that generate significant online traffic for the store. Bullock says that Great Things can compete with the best consignment shops in the area when given the opportunity.
In addition to local traffic, Great Things has visitors who find the resale boutique online and travel to Beatties Ford Road to shop. Bullock would like to see an even broader diversity of people from across the city coming to the store so that they can see for themselves the beauty of the West Side and what it has to offer.
“I love the West Side. The camaraderie of the people … there’s a different story every day,” says Bullock.
She anticipates that when the stay-at-home order is over, the store will get a rush of shoppers and donors alike. Bullock recently posted a video for potential donors that offered tips on quarantine cleaning; she hopes they will consider donating their high-quality clothing and home décor to Great Things. Donations are tax-deductible.
This article is part of a Historic West End journalism project funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Do you live in Historic West End? Do you have a burning question or issue our reporters can research? Submit it below.