As the fall season approaches, many eagerly anticipate the changes that it brings – the emergence of comfort food at our tables, long drives through the mountains to gaze upon the multicolored leaves, or trips to an apple orchard or pumpkin patch. But for many women, this season means one more thing: time to update our fall wardrobes with boots, sweaters, and leggings, galore. And now, we need look no further than downtown Harrisonburg. Duo, Harrisonburg’s newest establishment for new and used women’s fashion and accessories, has arrived.
Duo, located at 108 S. Main St, opened less than two months ago on August 15th. It is the second of its kind (the original Duo is located on The Corner in Charlottesville, VA), and Greer Johnson, the owner of both locations, looks overjoyed as she tells me about the Harrisonburg location’s success.
So what is it that has given Harrisonburg’s Duo this instant popularity?
Perhaps it’s Greer’s sophisticated charm, a quality that is paralleled throughout the chic, pink-walled shop, which brings customers into this fashion haven. The shop has an air of trendiness and the endless racks of various patterns, textures, and styles are a refreshing change from standard clothing stores at the mall. And with a wide selection of shoes, accessories, handbags, and home goods, shoppers are guaranteed to find multiple items of interest.
Or maybe it is the success and reputation of the original shop that draws in the crowds. Greer opened Duo in Charlottesville four years ago to fulfill her long-standing goal of owning a fashion boutique. But along with the UVA clientele, she also noticed that her customers came from farther away. “So many women from JMU were coming to Charlottesville to shop here. I started talking to them and discovered that there was a need for clothing and fashion shops in Harrisonburg.” So before she knew it, Greer scouted out a location in Harrisonburg and now provides her sought-after merchandise to devoted Harrisonburg customers. Although both are a part of a college town, Greer already sees differences between her two branches of Duo. “We carry many of the same pieces but the style in Charlottesville is a little preppier while Harrisonburg is more trendy. But it’s great having both stores because what doesn’t sell at one may sell at the other.”
What really makes Duo stand out as a fashion boutique, however, is beyond what the eye sees when entering the shop, unless you pay close attention to the “buy, wear, sell, repeat” slogan written on the display window. Though the clothing is equally fashionable and stylish, half of it is actually used and sold at a discounted price. “Having both new and gently worn clothing allows a girl to come in and get something, no matter her budget,” Greer says. But her criteria are high when selecting the used clothing to sell. She obtains the gently used clothing from the customers themselves. Anybody with clothes that are 0-2 years old and in excellent condition can make an appointment with Duo to acquire their clothing in exchange for an instant cash payment. “That’s one of many great things about being so close to a college campus.” Greer says. “We get a lot of students and recent graduates buying and selling and we’ve had many great sellers in Harrisonburg already.”
Although new to town, Greer is already doing much to make Duo a large part of the Harrisonburg community. She has plans to give back to the community by donating to non-profit organizations and donating gift cards to silent auctions that raise money for charities. “I also try to take part in the downtown and JMU events and we support the other downtown businesses and clothing stores (The Yellow Button and Mint) by referring customers to those places as well.” Along with this, Greer ensures that every Duo guest’s shopping experience is the best. “We have great customer service and we love it when someone leaves and is really excited about what they found.” She feels lucky to have the support from downtown as well and finds that much of her business’s popularity came from word of mouth and a great support system.
So for all Harrisonburg fashionistas, make sure you give your support to Duo and see the many great things they have to offer at 108 S. Main St. in Downtown Harrisonburg. Find new clothes and accessories in the front of the store, including brands like Darling, Aryn K, Dylan and Rose, Joe’s Jeans, Dolce Vida, and Melie Bianco, as well as great quality gently worn clothing in the back of the store.
And stay tuned for the next blog post on Billy Jack’s Wing and Draft Shack !
Katie George is the Promotions Intern for fall of 2011. She is a senior Media Arts & Design major at James Madison University.
All photographs © 2011 Katie George