The northeast lower peninsula offers an abundance of nature -- rivers, beaches, forests and state and national recreational areas -- and tidy small towns.
Settling into a rural area, however, comes with a price. The amenities found in more urban areas are exchanged for a more serene lifestyle. That often means choosing hobbies such as hunting, fishing and riding off-road vehicles over dining, shopping and other activities.
In Oscoda, a gateway to a host of outdoor activities in the region and home to restaurants, shops and other businesses, those amenities are growing, thanks to the opening of B-Trendy Boutique.
B-Trendy Boutique sells trendy clothing brands, accessories and Corky footwear, options less common to women in rural areas. The store, which opened in September, is the culmination of a years-long effort by Charina Dellar.
Charina Dellar modeling a plaid and floral dress.
Dellar, who is married and a mother of four, began pursuing her clothing dream online while working on the 2,500-acre family farm and raising her children. The family owns a crop farm, growing corn, soybeans, black beans, hay and wheat, in nearby Harrisville.
“My store offers boutique exclusive brands,” says Dellar, who tapped friends to help model clothes for her online business, initially working out of the family dining room. “I choose high-quality items, focusing on carrying sizes for everybody
, proudly stocking XS through 4XL in women's clothing.”
B-Trendy operates in a storefront along U.S. 23, north of downtown Oscoda, and online. Moving from e-commerce to brick-and-mortar entrepreneurs face some challenges, but Dellar seems to have taken them in stride. She handles both in-store and online business with aplomb.
"It wasn't easy working at home, that's for sure," she says. "I'm a workaholic. I was born and raised by two awesome parents who also worked really hard. I really enjoy working but it wasn't easy (on the farm)."
Her husband and father eventually built her a mini house on the property for her growing business, which began online through a Facebook group; she now uses the building as her warehouse.
“My online following is like family to me after all these years working with them. I look forward to building relationships with in-store customers like I have built online as my store continues to grow," Dellar says. “I do online live shows daily, which are so fun for me. I get to be myself and it's like shopping with my best friends virtually."
George Samra, director of the Oscoda Au Sable Chamber of Commerce, says B-Trendy Boutique is a welcome addition to the business community and the store's opening was recently followed with another women's clothing shop setting up shop in the community.
"Women in town have long complained that they can't buy women's clothing around here. Well, now they can," he says. "Business around here is picking up. We have new businesses coming to town. Coming out of COVID, people understand that this is an area that can grow."
Samra says he and his wife visited B-Trendy Boutique when it initially opened and found Dellar and her staff to be very engaging and upbeat.
"We needed a women's clothing store in town," he says. "She has lovely trendy clothes. Women will be thrilled with what she offers."
B-Trendy Boutique, Dellar says, offers a friendly and knowledgeable staff that will go above and beyond to ensure customers leave feeling amazing with their purchases.
The Dellar family. Back row: Gavin, husband Ryan, Charina and Carmen. Front row: Mariyah and Kennedy.
“We want you to enjoy your experience shopping in person and online. We want to offer a safe space for you to be yourself and have a blast trying on and choosing styles with us,” Dellar says. “We offer one-on-one fit sessions (by appointment) and will help you grow your confidence in styling clothes that fit your body shape beautifully. I truly believe there is beauty in everyone. Helping a person realize that is why I do what I do.”
She says one of the best parts of her job is making selections. Dellar selects everything in the store and focuses on providing a variety of options to her customers, ensuring there is something for every age, demographic and fit.
Dellar has been married to her husband, Ryan, for 20 years. Among the children, one is in college, one in high school, and two in grade school. Before she launched her online business, she managed the family's dairy operations -- the milking parlor -- with 250 cows. When that part of the family business ended, Dellar decided to pursue her passion.
The farm's remote location, she eventually realized, presented some obstacles.
"Getting people to come to the business was kind of tricky," she says. "We were off the beaten path. It was not something you would drive by. I like that one-on-one interaction. I really enjoy seeing familiar face, people who have been in the shop before and knowing what they bought before and how I can help them."
The community has been welcoming and supportive of her storefront. The only worry she had was about the location because it wasn't downtown, where there is regular foot traffic. Her highway location, however, has proven fruitful.
“Oscoda is a great place for a boutique because you do have to travel quite a distance to find boutique brands with all sizes like we offer,” Dellar says. “Lots of clothing stores are popping up in and around Oscoda now. It is so cool to see. Local business owners are very supportive of each other.”
The hard-working locals are always looking to create fun events and there is a steady stream of tourists, she says.
She would love to expand in the future with a second location but, in the meantime, plans to focus on being present for her online community and working to grow her Oscoda location.
Charina Dellar began her business in the family dining room.Even while helping run a farm and operating a boutique, Dellar tries her best to never miss any of her children's games -- they're all heavily involved in sports. While Dellar wears many different hats, she says being a mom is the most important job she has.
Dellar’s passion for fashion started when she was a child.
“I have loved fashion since I was a little girl. Having an open/unique style, and eye for pairing styles and colors is my specialty,” Dellar says.
Dellar’s advice to women who are inspired to open their own businesses is to get their finances in order, have a plan, and execute it.
“The sky's the limit for anyone and everyone is capable of doing the things they set their mind to,” she says. “If you live in a small town and are interested in fashion, go for it! Your community will be a rock for you and will want to support you. Just be yourself and never stray from your roots.”
Sarah Ratledge is a Metro Detroit native. In addition to working full-time in the trades, she is a freelance writer. She frequently contributes to Rural Innovation Exchange and UPword and has also written for Issue Media Group’s Input Fort Wayne.