Lily’s, the ski shop turned boutique near the University’s St. Paul campus, is more than just a business venture to its owner – it’s a whole new life.
Owner Lily Beauchamp said she envisioned a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender-friendly boutique that could act as a one-stop shop for the community. She also said she sees it as a gathering place for anyone who fancies a cushy couch and a stone fireplace.
Lily’s began selling its wares and services Nov. 16, but the idea began to form almost a year ago.
“We talked, and met, and started developing a plan – a smorgasbord of services that would be great for any community to have,” said Betsy Petersen, owner of Madelain Media and Arts, the marketing company that helped Beauchamp develop a business plan for Lily’s.
Beauchamp saved some money from her job as a business analyst and from a settlement over the death of her daughter four years ago.
“She would love this place,” Beauchamp said. “She does, I know it.”
While planning her boutique, Beauchamp and Petersen visited GLBT community hangouts and passed out surveys. The surveys asked people what they thought was lacking in meeting space and shopping – and where a GLBT boutique would best fit.
And in March, April came.
While handing out surveys at Patrick’s Cabaret, a mutual friend introduced Beauchamp to April Sams.
“It was just a love story,” Beauchamp said.
Sams was able to give money to the budding enterprise. By July, Beauchamp quit her job and looked for a place to set up shop.
The space for Lily’s – complete with cedar cross-beams and a stone fireplace – was available at 735 Snelling Ave. In August, Beauchamp and Sams were working on the interior.
Lily’s sells new and consigned clothing and jewelry and makeup. Its walls are covered with art that’s for sale, the back is a wig salon that will soon be full-service and the basement is a forum for community members.
With so many offerings, Emily Souza, Queer Student Cultural Center co-chairwoman, said she was disappointed she hadn’t heard more about it, but was supportive of the shop’s ideal.
“You go into a regular shop to buy a dress as a guy, and you’re going to get some comments … it’s always nice to find a nonjudgmental place for self-expression,” she said.
For Beauchamp, she said, just being able to see the smiles and hear the thank yous is enough to tell her she made the right move.
“I’ve finally learned how to live,” she said.