Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Anna Konstant
Racks of clothes from decades gone by serve as a backdrop behind Mullen. To the left there are jeans of all colors and lengths. In the back, there are long narrow racks filled with shirts of different texture, style, and color. Shirts, dresses, hats, bandanas and scarves hang off the walls. Rings with turquoise stones and woven, beaded, and leather bracelets fill the glass case of her counter.
A self-described vintage hippie, she opened Angel Wings Boutique, 1520 Broadway St. in Mattoon almost nine years ago.
She greets every customer and also works with them one on one.
“I’m different that’s all I could tell you,” Mullen said. “I’m not like the other shops and anybody who goes to those shops will come here and tell you that.”
“I love the customers and their interesting walks of life.” Mullen has all types of customers who shop in the store. She sells to homeless people, teenagers, adults, and college students.
Customers often look for guidance from Mullen when it comes to fashion. “I know how to put things together,” Mullen said. Other thrift shops sit at the counter and wait for the customer’s purchase.
Not only does Mullen show her appreciation towards others, customers show appreciation towards her. Customers also show their appreciation for her store by bringing in nice clothes they don’t use anymore.
“I love to put outfits together and I am a frustrated artist,” Mullen said. Mullen releases frustration she has through her store and the outfits she creates.
Mullen puts a twist on things when she puts clothes together. “I don’t think. I just look at something and go oh and it hits me,” Mullen said. “It’s just like when an artist goes to paint a picture. You just see it.”
Mullen’s creativity shows through the outfits she creates in her store. “I come from a family of artists,” Mullen said. Creative people are also those who shop at thrift stores because they have to find outfits from various styles, sizes and colors.
There are only specific pieces Mullen wants to display in her shop. She wants quality materials and brand names. The items are from leftover garage sales, church donations, and general donations.
The items people bring to her are sometimes difficult to work with because she wants her store to resemble a boutique. “A lot of them are donated. We rely on donations totally. We are limited to what you can do when you are given that,” Mullen said.
In the future, Mullen wants to attract more people to her store. Her goal is to create an online store, with the help from someone. The creation of an online store, will help her tremendously. She thinks this will help bring different type of people in, like college students who don’t have a lot of time for shopping.
In the next three years if her business does not continue to thrive, she plans on selling the business and donating the clothes.