Bernie’s Boutique, Something For Everyone
New Business Opens in Dodge City
By Dianne Alward-Biery
Cleaver Staff Writer
Copyright Clare County Cleaver
HARRISON – The newest business enterprise in Dodge City is Weekend At Bernies/Bernie’s Boutique, a store that is the culmination of years of creativity and procurement by its proprietor, Bernadette Girard. The boutique is housed in the north end of Kern’s Grocery in the space formerly occupied by a tanning salon and video store.
Although when entering the store it may just seem to contain lots of shelves, cases and tables covered and filled with stuff, upon closer examination visitors will see that each item actually conveys its own story. When seen that way, the clever twists of phrase and combined elements make many of the store’s offerings come alive with personality.
This shop is the fulfillment of Girard’s longtime desire to own a shop/boutique and to have a place to sell the things she loves and creates. Those creations include items that start out life as one thing, then in Girard’s clever hands are upcycled into something completely different, yet engaging, useful and/or just plain fun. It’s not surprising that she says digging through salvage yards is her idea of a great time.
“I love repurposing metal and shabby chic kinds of things,” she said.
She also loves clothes and sweets, both of which she has incorporated into her little store. The clothes include about 10 percent “gently used” items which Girard gleans through to ensure their top-notch condition. The remaining 90 percent of the clothing items are purchased new. The sweet tooth is expressed in chocolates and artisan fruit spreads from Pump Up the Jams.
The store’s home décor items lean more toward rustic and not so much toward woodsy, although there are many handmade cabin/cottage furnishing and wall décor items, including handcrafted wine glass racks which can be personalized to the customer’s preference.
“I sell a lot of the wine racks,” she said. “I’m always willing to listen to new ideas, and to personalize things.”
Girard also is artistic as a jewelry designer, again integrating various vintage elements to create truly one-of-a-kind necklaces and more.
One thing this new entrepreneur had in mind when she set up shop was to be certain the new business has something for everyone, and that means both genders as well. There are clothing pieces for men as well as ladies, and a variety of offering leaning to the masculine side. Girard’s husband is a welder who has used is skills and reclaimed elements to create various pieces for the shop, including a striking black chandelier.
Girard had previously rented space in the Freeland Antique Mall where there was good foot traffic, but also considerable overhead costs. Considering those costs and travel distance, Girard decided she might prefer to stay in her own backyard and cater to a more local clientele. That’s part of why she also is stocking swimwear, beach towels and more for the many people who enjoy the lakes in the Dodge area – the community she calls home.
“I love boating, kayaking, dogs and traveling,” she said.
Girard said her move into the former video store entailed some renovation, including taking out what seemed like miles of cassette/disc shelving and applying lots of fresh paint. That cosmetic prep work was coupled with a great deal of thoughtful planning, the result of which is an eclectic mix of hard and soft goods, foods and an abundance of clever, yet thought-provoking and practical whimsy.
Like any new business owner who is the only staff member, Girard is learning to adjust to the expected periods of downtime between customers. She is undaunted, however, and uses the time to plan and produce still more inventory.
Girard also enjoys the companionship of her pal Mason, a 1-year-old male Plott Hound, who enjoys having playful run of the store when customers are absent.
One particular wall décor items in the boutique well describes what seems to be the realization Girard has come to and aspires to fulfill. It is embellished with graphic and floral designs, and beautiful, colorful butterflies and reads: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
It would seem Girard has created a boutique that truly reflects the self she has created and poured into the treasures visitors will find there.
Store specials are planned, including discount promotions for county residents and in-store drawings for store items. Girard also intends to have a “come on in/get to know you” event for customers in the near future.
“It’s a fun place to come in and see a little bit of everything,” Girard said. “Come in, say hi to Mason.”
Currently, Girard plans to be open during the warmer months of April through October, with store hours of 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday.