BRADENTON -- Lisa Kuypers is filling a void for both herself and the community with her new store Sweet Repeats & Boutique in Bradenton.
The East Manatee resident's shop specializes in new and gently used clothes, accessories and furniture for babies ranging from premature births through size 7. She's never had a child, but her motherly instincts are strong as a caregiver to her nephew.
"I haven't worked in 15 years, and I was just getting bored," Kuypers said inside her store, filled with vibrantly colored baby clothes.
The former Harley-Davidson saleswoman needed spinal surgery 15 years ago, and it didn't go as planned. Kuypers pointed at the incision below her throat and detailed how doctors had to reach her cervical spine. The surgery paralyzed her vocal cords, prompting the need for an implant and pain medication. After years of depression and dependency on pain medication, she was motivated to change with the support of her husband, Greg Kuypers.
"The last two years I've been off of everything, and it's been like my life has completely turned around," said Kuypers, whose South Carolina twang is still intact.
The store opened this summer in a strip center west of Bank of Ozarks at 1937 Manatee Ave. W. Gathering the inventory has been an adventure for Kuypers, 50.
Sweet Repeats is more boutique than resale. The boutique carries brands Mudd Pie, Baby Ganz and Corky's Kids, while the resale ranges from Carters and Ralph Lauren to Calvin Klein and Juicy Couture.
The front of the store features seasonal clothes for Halloween and Christmas, and cheeky outfits for little boys like a faux tux and a cloth diaper with a mustache pattern. For girls, there are princess outfits, dresses with Owls and presents for the tooth
fairy. The back room of the shop includes bassinets, car seats, cribs and other furniture. Sweet Repeats also offers gift cards, gift wrapping and free shipping.
With upscale retail so focused in East Manatee now, Kuypers feels like she's filling a void near downtown Bradenton for those looking for baby clothes and gifts.
"They come in here because I have unique items and stuff you can't find, especially like Mud Pie. They're a big huge company and have to come and approve your building and everything It's hard to get in with Mud Pie," Kuypers said.
Heather Pye of West Bradenton stopped in the store Thursday morning with her daughter Madeline and another child on the way.
"I saw the sign by the road and we don't have any baby boutiques around here," Pye said. The new Mall at University Town Center is too far to lug the kids, and another boutique on Anna Maria Island is out of the way for her, she said.
Pye liked the cute look of Sweet Repeats and hopes to have something for her son in waiting. "I'm having a little boy, so I was looking for little beanies, little hats, handmade stuff and bibs," she said.
To build up her inventory beyond the new boutique items, Kuypers combed through websites where moms trade clothes and sell unwanted baby items. She drove as far as Tampa and Naples to meet strangers in parking lots to buy the items she's been looking for over the course of three months.
"I bought big bundles of clothes for a decent price, and the ones that were in great shape I kept, washed and ironed and put them in here," Kuypers said.
Many of the items she acquired from mothers still have the tags on them, she said.
"They grow so fast they don't have time to wear it," Kuypers said. "And they get so much at baby showers, but I'm trying to gear more toward the boutique side."
What she doesn't use for the store is mainly donated to Manasota SOLVE, or Save Our Lives Volunteer Everyway, a maternity home for women of all ages.
For information, call 941-251-6981.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.