Consignment store owner finds opportunity in Bay City in the midst of a global pandemic

The year 2020 has been tough economically and emotionally. Between COVID-19 spreading, not being able to spend time with loved ones, businesses closing their doors, and record-high unemployment rates, plenty of people feel lost and hopeless.

Rachel Inskeep, however, found an opportunity in the hard times. She took her passion and made it into reality by opening LuLu B’s Resale + Consignment Shop, 906 N. Water St.

LuLu B's Resale + Consignment Shop carries a small line of men's clothing.Inskeep worked as a registered dental assistant for 12 years in Bay City, but with the new dangers of a rapidly-spreading virus, she didn’t feel safe anymore. “When COVID hit, our office got shut down for nine weeks because we were not essential,” says Inskeep. “I honestly didn’t want to go back after the nine weeks because we are a high risk in the dental field.”

She went back to work after those nine weeks, but says “I was bummed because I love my patients and I love my job, but I just wasn’t comfortable with the COVID aspect of it.”

Months later, she was driving home from work and the idea for her own women’s clothing consignment shop hit her. She called her husband to tell him she wanted to open a business. Next, she called her sister, Emily Kloka, to offer her the general manager position. When her sister accepted the job, LuLu B’s was born.

Once Inskeep had the business idea and a general manager, the process was quick.

“On Nov. 6, we came to look at the space here and I signed the lease and then November 27, we opened the doors,” says Inskeep. “I applied for my own LLC, state tax ID, and all that kind of stuff. It was three weeks from the ground up.”

COVID-19 may have inadvertently helped Inskeep get the shop open. “I was put on a 14-day quarantine because I was exposed at work to a positive case, so I spent 14 days straight here at the shop [before it opened],” says Inskeep. “That’s probably why it opened when it did because I was able to spend that time here.”

She clarifies that she never developed COVID-19 symptoms. She was healthy and isolated while working in the shop.

Consigning with LuLu B’s is a simple process, explains Inskeep. “I don’t purchase upfront. You bring me your items to find what I want to sell for you. Then I get 60% of the sale and the consigner gets 40% of the sale.”

While she goes through the items, consigners can visit with her dog, Basil, who often wanders through the store to greet shoppers.

Accessories and clothing fill the shelves and racks at LuLu B's.The unique name for the shop actually comes from Inkseep’s pets. “We had a cat named Lucille,” says Inskeep. “My husband named her after I Love Lucy. We lost her in 2008 to cancer, but she was a big part of our life. I called her LuLu so that’s where LuLu came from. B is for my dog, Basil, and also for my husband, Brandon.”

Inskeep says “We’re crazy cat people and animal lovers.”

Inskeep says she’s learned a lot already. “I have no background in business whatsoever,” she says. “I’ve done tons of research. I read a lot. I’m learning something new literally every day.”

She says “The feedback from the community has been really good. We’ve gotten tons of compliments and people saying they’ve been waiting for a women’s clothing consignment shop to open.”

Inskeep is proud to own a business in Downtown Bay City and contribute to the community she’s been a part of her whole life. In fact, the inspiration for the location of her shop is rooted in her own appreciation for the area.

“My husband and I moved into the Times Lofts on March 8 and two weeks later, everything shut down,” says Inskeep. Because of the shutdown, “we spent a lot of time walking around downtown and spending time at the park. We don’t have an outdoor space at the Times Lofts so when we walk the dog three times a day, we go down to the park.”

When restrictions relaxed over the summer, the couple “frequented as many restaurants as we could in their outdoor dining spaces,” says Inskeep. “I just think that’s important. That’s what makes the community special.”

Inskeep knows that it is rare for a business owner to have absolutely no background in the field, but she also sees that it seems to be working out for her.

“We’re really just promoting that you can learn and do and be anything you want,” says Inskeep of her business mission. “I think that’s so important.”