Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Feb. 6.
Debra Hoffmaster and Alexis Davis knew they wanted to open a consignment shop with a wide array of ladies' fashions.
But in the first year since opening Oasis Consignments, they've done much more than that, serving as personal shoppers for scores of women across Anne Arundel County.
The duo opened the store on Piney Orchard Parkway last March, and have seen the store evolve from a simple place to get great clothing deals to a spot where women can get close attention and buying advice.
"Our goal is to help people feel better after they walk out," Hoffmaster said. "And with our store, it's a more personal feel, and that's what we're hoping for."
Frequently, women will come into Oasis in need of new work clothes or an outfit for church. Some will look for purses, others for evening wear. Nearly everyone is in search of bargains.
Mary Ann Darko of Hanover said she has been shopping at Oasis several times a month since the store opened. Some recent weight loss necessitated the purchase of a whole new wardrobe for work, and she has also bought some evening attire and clothing for church services.
"They are very helpful," said Darko, who had never shopped at a consignment store before. "I will call them all the time, and tell them 'this is what I am looking for.' They make you feel comfortable and work with you on finding something, and that's what keeps me coming back."
Hoffmaster and Davis said the first year has been a good one, with business still on the uptick. They've kept a good balance of inventory and sales.
"It's really good that we're able to say 'we're still growing,'' Hoffmaster said. "We're thrilled that we're still getting new faces come into the store."
It helps that customers around the area are still looking for deals. Items at Oasis typically sell for more than half off the retail price.
"The economy is starting to recover, but it's still slow," Hoffmaster said. "Everyone is still very value conscious, and we can help women look good for very low prices."
Davis said the personal relationships have been the most rewarding part of the experience.
"We like to be able to find an item and the outfit they are looking for," she said. "People will often come in with a piece they bought somewhere else and ask, 'should I keep it. What do I do with it?'"
One customer named Bernadette, who declined to allow her last name to be published because she works in the defense sector, said she has a personal policy of spending no more than $20 on any item.
She has been in the store frequently in recent months after undergoing weight loss surgery.
"The timing of the store opening was really perfect," the Piney Orchard resident said. "They've been right there with me on this journey."
Oasis almost didn't open in Odenton, as the pair had been closed to signing a lease on space in the Ridgeway Shopping Center, just west of Fort Meade. But that deal fell through, and they found a home in Odenton. Hoffmaster said things worked out for the best, as the location has given them good access to shoppers in Piney Orchard and great neighbors, including the West Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce.
Oasis has integrated itself into the community, supporting local school events, offering a military discount and donating clothing to Sarah's House and other charities.
"We're planning to be here a long time," Davis said.