OAKHURST — Living in a beautiful rural area, as we do, blissfully secluded from the convenience of chain department stores, it can often be tricky to find what you need in new clothing without going to Fresno. This is especially true when it comes to certain, ahem, unmentionables. It would be remiss, then, if we failed to mention that lack-of-wardrobe problems are being solved on a daily basis by Lisa Weddle in her store, Back 2 Basics.
“We opened in October last year, and this is something that I had been conceptualizing over a period of time,” Lisa explains. “I really wanted to have a place up here that offered basic clothing for anyone at good prices, and I wanted to offer things that I knew were not available.”
Back 2 Basics sells exlusively brand-new clothing, along with jewelry, accessories, neck ties, belts and flip flops for the summer, in just 2,000 square feet. The owner is no stranger to retail or the mountain area; she has lived here for almost 40 years, ever since parents Richard and Marion Thoma moved to the foothills from around Kerman, when Lisa was only 11.
“I still live on the same land with them,” Lisa says, explaining the family put a second house on the same property.
She has two brothers that live out of the area, while her daughter Katrina, 17, is a student at YHS. Lisa herself went to Wasuma and YHS, and is married to Keith. He works for Big Creek Lumber out of Atwater and, fortunately, is on-hand every weekend and it’s just the two of them heading up the store. The shop is open seven days a week right now, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. except on Sundays when they’re open 10 – 5.
If you stop in at Back 2 Basics and think she looks familiar, Lisa says it’s most likely because she helped you during her successful 20-year-plus stint at Raley’s.
“Since I’ve lived here so long, I’ve seen department stores come and go, and no one was really paying attention to the fact that you couldn’t buy a bra or underwear to speak of in town. Those were things that were really on my mind.”
Lisa left Raleys only after being offered the position of retail director for the Pines Resort in 2007. Lisa ran the Pines Market, where she was the manager and did all the buying and merchandising. In the last two years of the position she opened three village-area shops: resort wear clothing store Top to Bottom, along with Bass Lake Treasures and the Man Cave.
“I conceptualized all three of those stores, handling everything from buying, through staffing and merchandising. Through my experiences in retail, I began to realize that the clothing and what I call the fun stuff is the direction I wanted to go in.”
Now, Lisa handles all the fun stuff 24/7, including everything from the books and research, through buying and merchandising. Back 2 Basics is active locally through the Oakhurst Chamber of Commerce, and Mountain Area Merchants Association.
“It’s all about understanding the community. It’s my goal to have those things that aren’t available, starting with the bras, underwear, and socks, and men’s underwear, which weren’t available readily in town. Also the children’s section is important, I’ve come to realize.”
Lisa says she started up with a very small children’s section and has added to it and increased it.
“I think parents like to have an opportunity to come in when the kids need a green shirt, let’s say, to wear for St. Patrick’s day. That’s huge, and being able to save someone a trip when they don’t want to go down the hill has a positive impact on the community.”
Another of Lisa’s goals is to carry a wide variety of merchandise, so the sizing and styles are varied.
“We have bright colors and patterns but then also subdued looks, so I try to have something for everyone, with sizes from newborn to 5x and I try to diversify that as much as I can.”
Finding the right kind of clothing isn’t always easy, says the shop owner, but she likes that part of the challenge.
“It’s hard to find sources for the right kind of clothes that I want. I make trips to LA to research and buy clothes. It’s my end goal to have something for everyone and make it a positive experience, and I try to have a clean and uncluttered look.”
All sizing is integrated into all merchandizing, Lisa explains, so there’s no corner for plus size or juniors — it’s all included together. In addition to plus and regular sizes, when it comes to those that may be considered petites, Back 2 Basics stocks clothes that are designed fit well and yet remain affordable.
“I try to order styles that have different cuts for shorter waists and shorter lengths in order to accommodate smaller people.”
Back 2 Basics offers everything from casual to dress, slacks, Dickies for work pants, jeans, palazzo pants, silky and slinky garments Lisa says you can wear for a dressier occasion, and they just started getting spring dresses in, along with swimwear in different sizes and styles — not just small bikinis. Lisa’s very picky about the quality of the clothes she buys.
“I’m careful about the feel and quality of the clothes and the price point, so sometimes it takes me longer because I spend a lot of time looking for something. For instance, right now, I’m looking at a khaki capri for ladies but everything is either too expensive or I don’t like to quality. It takes time to find items of good quality at a price that I feel I can offer to my customers.”
Don’t see what you’re looking for? Just ask Lisa.
“I always encourage my customers to let me know if there are things they are looking for that I don’t have, because I will do my best to see if I can carry every single request. If I can get something, I will.”
Back 2 Basics is located at 40120 CA-41 (behind McDonald’s) in Oakhurst, and the phone number is (559) 683-5696.
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