Beth Britt is a woman in transition.
After more than a decade as a military spouse and stay-at-home mother, she now runs her own business. Although she has long been an entrepreneur, it is her first time running a brick-and-mortar operation.
But that challenge is just the tip of the iceberg for Britt.
She opened Alyssa’s Closet, a high-end thrift shop in Killeen, on Feb. 1. Her divorce was finalized last week. And of course, she will never stop dealing with the death of the infant daughter for whom her store is named.
In addition to the store’s name, Britt painted a memorial to Alyssa on the checkout stand. Alyssa died of sudden infant death syndrome in 2010. It is a testament to how close to Britt’s heart the new venture is.
“I can talk about it now,” Britt said. “If I am going to name my store after her, I have to be able to.”
Britt chose the store’s name and created the memorial to preserve the memory of Alyssa’s short time on Earth.
“I named it after her to keep her memory so people will know she was here, even if it was for a short time,” she said.
The shop is a standard thrift store, though Britt focuses on high-end brand-name items. She said brand-name clothes, shoes and baby items are popular. And she should know. The store just opened, but Britt has a lot of experience selling slightly used items for a profit.
“I have been buying and reselling stuff for the last 10 to 12 years,” she said.
When she was a stay-at-home mom, Britt bought items at garage sales and thrift shops and then resold them on Amazon, eBay or Craigslist. She even dabbled in college textbooks for a while.
“I found a company in India that sold used textbooks,” she said. “They were not in the best condition, but they were in good enough condition to sell.”
Britt ordered textbooks from India and sold them on Amazon. Reselling slightly used items was the best way she could think of to supplement the family income while she took care of her three children. But now she finds herself on her own.
“It is tough to find a job when you have not been in the workforce for more than 10 years,” she said.
Britt first opened Alyssa’s Closet in Harker Heights, but she moved the store to Killeen after three months. She said the new store is in a better neighborhood with more foot traffic.
“The first location was more of a learning experience,” Britt said. “I had never done retail before. It was a good experience. I consider it training.”
During those first three months, Britt got a crash course in negotiating, appraising and selling. By the time she opened the new location, she was ready to hit the ground running.
“I’m a very quick learner,” she said. “I was very hesitant the first two weeks, but I threw myself into it.
“Negotiating was tough at first, but now I like it. Right now, I am doing well. We are paying all our bills and turning a small profit.”