A little ditty called “Pink Houses” was not just a song for Paula Williams. For her, it was the foundation of her childhood and what led to her opening up her very own consignment store in Dickinson.
Located off of First Street West in the former GG’s store, Little Pink House is a women’s consignment boutique, featuring high quality products from brands such as Old Navy, Torrid, Abercrombie and Fitch.
The store carries a variety of styles for juniors to older ladies, including a wider selection of plus-sized clothing. Formal wear such as ball gowns and bridal dresses are also in stock — some on the display and the rest in storage to keep space on the floor open for customers. Affordability and accessibility is a mindset Williams’ strives for to keep people shopping locally especially since Dickinson is a rural area and at times, an isolated community. Little Pink House gives customers access to "big city" brands.
“... It also gives us the opportunity to bring in our clothes and swap them out, (and) changing up your wardrobe without having to face the ‘Oh man, I spent X amount of dollars.’ Here you can get an $80 pair of jeans for $30,” Williams said. “You can find your whole summer wardrobe for less than $100, whereas if you would have bought it new, you would have spent over $300.”
Before taking over as the owner/operator in August of 2020, Williams shadowed the previous GG’s owner a little over a month and learned how to price items, operations of running a business and so on. Consignment is a way for people to reduce disposal, and instead, "recycle, upcycle, reuse, repurpose, gift your treasure to a new person for a whole new life to be loved," she said.
“I've always been a very, very frugal person. I was a single mom; I shopped eBay; I shopped rummage sales. I grew up shopping (with) my stepmother, who was like a thrift junkie and we would always be shopping at all the thrift stores and getting things like that. So I've always been very frugal and money-minded… When the store opened I was like, ‘Wow this is awesome,’” Williams remarked.
As a full-time Spanish and world geography teacher at Dickinson High School and a social studies adjunct for Minnesota Online High School, Williams had to carve out a new direction for the store. This meant paralleling some of the aspects of GG’s while also restructuring the store to suit Williams’ vision. So she began using colored barbs on store items to moderate inventory and give all of the clothing a 45-day consignment contract period. Once that date expires, the items then become store property or it gets donated to local charities.
Little Pink House is a strong advocate of giving back with its Little Blessing Box — a charitable fund in which people can still bring in their donations of high-quality items to be normally consigned, then that money goes toward helping community charities each month. Charities range from individuals dealing with cancer therapies costs, school pantries and the Domestic Violence And Rape Crisis Center.
As Williams continues to check off her short-term goals, she hopes one day to acquire a nonprofit status of the Little Blessing Box and keep expanding the store with a men’s line.
The story behind the boutique’s name began with an old tune from 1983.
“I grew up with a single mom. She had me when she's very young; she had me when she was 16. And one of her favorite songs was John Cougar Mellencamp’s 'Little Pink Houses For You And Me.' She would sing it to me anytime it was on, no matter what age I was… She's no longer with us,” Williams said, wiping away a tear.
Her mother moved Williams to Dickinson in 1989, hoping to start a new life. However, her mother’s relationship with a New England local turned rocky. They were kicked out and left homeless for two weeks. Williams remarked how her mother’s spirit never ceased to dream during that unprecedented time.
Not long after, Williams and her mother found a house for sale. Using Williams’ babysitting money for the down payment, the realtor sold them the house despite that they were one of the lower bidders. Though Williams’ mother passed away in 2015, that piece of her childhood is a “big foundation” for her store and also her mother’s favorite color was pink, hence the name.
“My mom was a… huge influence in my life,” Williams said, softening with emotion. “... She would be so proud of me and I know this last week she’s been haunting me.”
Williams along with her two main employees and three students with DHS’ work experience program will even lend a hand with a personal shopping experience this summer.
Little Pink House will have its grand opening from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 6 with a brunch charcuterie, juice bar and afternoon popcorn snacks, while offering customers exclusive deals. For more information on the consignment boutique and to view hours of operation, visit the Little Pink House Facebook page or call 701-690-5618.