Alumna-owned thrift boutique relocates to Audubon Park
The racks are lined with corduroy overalls, velvet vests, pleated skirts and printed satin scarves, among more than a thousand other vintage pieces outgrown by older, often hipper, generations.
The air smells of burning incense and carries the sounds of Led Zeppelin through the rare and aged objects littered cautiously around the room. And the owners, UCF alumna Brittney DeGeus and husband Agustin Sulser, settle into the new home they’ve found for their shop, The Owl’s Attic.
Having outgrown its original location tucked away in an industrial sector on Forsyth Road, the vintage brick and mortar opened up its second — and soon-to-be only — location in Audubon Park last week.
“It kind of needed to happen because it was time to grow, but of course I’m going to miss that place,” said DeGeus in regard to the Forsyth location, which will be closed by the end of the year. “It’s where it all started, so it’s definitely bittersweet. But we just outgrew it — big time.”
The original store, which quite literally resembled an attic, was jam-packed with tried and true vintage clothes, accessories and home décor until just last week, when DeGeus and Sulser offered significant sales to clear shop.
Prior to the move, DeGeus said the lack of space at the Forsyth location was inhibiting the sale of a great majority of the couple’s vintage collection, which at the time, had been sitting in storage awaiting resurgence.
“We had more than enough for both shops, so when we started stocking this place, we basically just pulled a lot of stuff out of our storage,” DeGeus said. “We’d been collecting stuff for five years and had forgotten a lot of what we had. So it was like Christmas, pulling out boxes and remembering everything we’d found. It was a lot of fun.”
The cleaning, steaming and individual tagging of all the items was a different story. And while 99 percent of the new store’s inventory is hitting the racks for the first time, DeGeus said some of the Forsyth pieces made it to the new location.
“Because everything in there went on sale, we went through and pulled out the stuff that was still pretty new or just too good to give away for so cheap,” she said.
Even so, the Audubon Park store, which is considerably larger than its original, is still not big enough to house the couple’s entire collection of thrifted goods, which initially got its start as a simple hobby.
“This probably isn’t even half of it,” DeGeus said. “It all started when we had just moved in together and were doing some thrifting just to find stuff for the house. But we ended up finding all of these cool things, and it totally became an addiction.”
At the time, DeGeus had just graduated from UCF with a degree in education. But having graduated during the Great Recession, at a time when the public school system was making significant budget cuts, she found very few employment opportunities.
“Not finding a job right off the bat gave me the chance to have just enough free time to do something for myself,” DeGeus said. “It was the first time ever that I wasn’t a student in my whole life, so I’d never really experienced free time to find a hobby that I enjoyed because I was always too busy to even figure out something that I was passionate about.”
DeGeus and Sulser began collecting, and took the plunge into opening a store when they found themselves with nothing else to lose.
“Your chances of going out on a limb or taking a risk are much lower once you’ve settled in a career path, so I saw it as my chance to just try something that I enjoyed before getting locked into a career,” she said. “I could not have expected the success that I ended up with, at all. It’s still a shock.”
Though a shock to both DeGeus and Sulser, the success they’ve reached did not come easy.
“We made a lot of sacrifices, basically worked 24 /7, to get to where we are, and we still work 24/7,” Sulser said.
“Our social life went out the door. We didn’t really get to hang out with friends because we were constantly trying to do things with the shop and promote it, and just work harder and harder,” he said. “But, even then, I never expected it to be where it is today.”
After launching their own business, DeGeus said she hopes she never has to go back to working for “the man.”
“There’s something about working for yourself that is motivating because you have no choice but to work hard,” DeGeus said. “If you find something that makes you happy, you’ll work hard enough to make sure that you make the money you need to live off.”
If you go
Where: 3106 Corrine Drive
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m daily
Daniela Marin is the Entertainment Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @dan__marin or email her at DanielaM@CentralFloridaFuture.com.