HOWELL — It’s retirement time for Mary Ann and Mike McCray, who have been fixtures in the downtown shopping community for two decades.
But now the McCrays say they have found their perfect replacements and their store will go on.
The McCrays have sold Le Boutique Upscale Resale, a women’s fashion consignment shop, to Hilary Zabawski and Joe Morphew, an engaged Howell couple in their 30s, who say they will continue to operate it, with some tweaks and new ideas in the works.
“We weren’t necessarily looking for it. It was kind of a God-given thing that we brought this into our lives. We were looking for an investment to happen,” Zabawski said.
Zabawski has a background in fashion, while her fiance Joe operates an insurance agency.
“On my end, it’s business-oriented and looking for new opportunities,” Morphew said. “And on her end, the fashion aspect, it’s something she’s good at and knowledgeable about.”
Mary Ann McCray said she found “the right people” to take over the store.
“It was very important for me to have energetic, young people with new ideas to give it new life. Change is good,” she said. “I’m proud of (operating a store for 20 years) and we have a beautiful store. I’m excited we can keep it alive and keep it in downtown Howell.”
“It’s a little bit of a legacy thing,” Mike McCray added. “We needed to find the right people, people who could instill their own energy.”
The new owners intend to change the name, but just slightly, to La Boutique Upscale Resale. When the McCrays started the business, the “La Boutique” was not available in Michigan, but the name is now.
New dreamers take over
Zabawski said she has dreamed about owning a bridal shop because she has worked in bridal shows since she was a teenager. She currently does bridal shows for Monroe-based EK Designer Gowns. She also works as a chiropractic assistant at Rooted Chiropractic, just down the block from the consignment shop.
When the McCrays’ store went up for sale, she saw it as an opportunity to own a business in her hometown, and use her fashion knowledge.
“We’re going to start bridal, hopefully growing the business with clientele,” she said. “They’ve been in business for 20-plus years, so their people who started 20 years ago have gotten older, so there are a lot of older generations of people who come in, and we want to be able to cater to 20-something-year-olds as well. Get that new generation coming in, and then eventually growing business.
Zabawski is accepting bridal appointments for Sundays and hopes to expand that schedule once she builds up her inventory of bridal gowns.
“Maybe we’ll eventually open a separate bridal store one day,” she said.
She said the consignment store will remain mainly focused on “upscale resale,” and she is accepting consignments for good quality, clean women’s apparel, shoes, jewelry and accessories.
“We are very much aiming to keep it mid- to upper-tier brands in good condition,” Morphew said.
Among items shoppers can find at the store are gently used and never-worn items, including designer items from Gucci, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and other high-end brands, as well as current fashions from popular stores.
Since opening in 2004, the store has become a destination for locals and consignment shoppers from all over Michigan and even other states, and the McCrays have worked with thousands of consigners.
The couples agree they have some things in common. Mary Ann McCray has run the fashion side of the store while Mike McCray, a retired airline pilot, has run the administrative side and helped on the sales floor.
“We met Mike and Mary Ann, and we hit it off with them and they are pretty like-minded people. The way they ran the business for years is pretty similar,” Morphew said. “He’s kind of the business guy and she’s the fashion girl, and they did a great job here. I think we had a kinship there.”
Morphew, who spent his teenage years in Pinckney, started his independent insurance agency, MIG, in 2020.
“I’ve always wanted to just have a foot in different businesses and try my hand at a few things,” he said.
The couple went to high school together at Kensington Woods, but they didn’t start dating until they reconnected one day at the chiropractor’s office. They live in Howell and are excited to establish their life together in town.
Passing the torch
The McCrays say they will remain available to help with the transition for a while.
“We just want to help where needed, give assistance where needed,” Mary Ann McCray said.
Mike McCray said running the shop is a lot of responsibility. As they get older, they can turn their attention to travel, hobbies and spending more time with family.
“It’s kind of hard to disappear for any length of time. We want to travel, and we’ve got travel benefits. I’m retired airline, so we’ve got passes and everything,” he said.
“I’m excited to explore my hobbies, golf and painting and spending more time with my daughter,” Mary Ann McCray said. “And I don’t know, there might be something else for me to do.”
Contact Livingston Daily reporter Jennifer Eberbach at [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Livingston Daily: ‘Like-minded’ new owners found for upscale consignment shop in Howell
- This Outdoor Voices Sale Just Started—Here Are The 16 Best Activewear Deals to Shop
- Russians flock to H&M as fashion retailer opens stores to sell inventory
- Nordstrom Just Launched a Tween Clothing Section on Its Site — Here Are the Best Brands to Shop
- Best New Arrivals From Zara | August 2022
- New kids' clothing store to open at Foothills mall