Change is blooming in Victoria, where shoppers aren’t scared to adjust their spending habits and opt for second-hand clothing at a brand-new, one-of-a-kind store.
“People are less embarrassed now to say no, or to say that something’s more expensive than it needs to be,” said Tanya Sterling with Sterling Financial.
The financial planner has noticed a shift as more people thrift.
“It’s definitely better for the environment,” she told CHEK News during an interview. “It’s better on the pocketbook.”
That’s something sisters Brenna and Erika kept in mind when opening their new store Fat Sisters — the only plus-size vintage consignment shop in B.C.’s capital.
“If you can believe it, all of this was in my apartment,” said Brenna, aka ‘Big Sister,’ during a tour of the new store, which is located downtown at 813 Fort St.
“I wondered if we were hoarders for a little while,” laughed ‘Little Sister’ Erika.
Making people feel special
Just days after opening, the sisters’ passion for fashion is already paying off. Just ask the customers.
“You rarely see any plus-size clothing out in the open anymore,” said Peju Adelasoye, a University of Victoria student and avid thrift shopper, who visited the store with a friend.
“It was super nice to find pants that I didn’t feel like I was trying to fit into. They were just fitting me,” said Sarah Klassen, still marvelling at Fat Sisters’ merchandise.
They left with some new threads, all thanks to Brenna and Erika who noticed a real gap in the market and had a desire to inspire others.
“That’s really what we’re here for, you know. Making people feel special and beautiful,” said Erika, explaining that people just want to feel comfortable in their own skin.
Brenna says the store was several years in the making. It all started after she and her family moved to Victoria from B.C.’s mainland amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was not used to going on business trips, and I had no clothes that fit me. I was in a panic. It felt ridiculous that I should be so stressed out about wearing something,” she recalled.
“Most of the shops that carry clothes that fit me are online only. And so, I did not have time to put in an order and wait for it to come, so I was panicking. After that experience, I was like, ‘This is ridiculous. This is ridiculous, it shouldn’t be like this.'”
Buying on a budget
Now customers are lauding the sisters for their business venture.
“At the end of the day, plus-size people exist, bigger bodies exist. And they should have the right to have comfortable clothing,” said Adelasoye. “It was nice to see clothes that we liked and at affordable prices that were reasonable for the average consumer.”
The owners say the positive feedback makes it all worth it.
A recent PayPal report polling 2,000 Canadians revealed the reselling movement had gone mainstream, with nearly 73 per cent purchasing pre-loved items as the cost of living soars.
“We’ve had groups of people come in, and they are giddy. It’s like this is a candy store,” laughed Brenna. “I feel like we’re so conditioned to take what we can get to fit our body, then people come in and see racks full of clothes that have potential.”
Happiness: the best revenge.
“So people can bully me and call me fat, but the truth is there’s nothing wrong with being fat and living in your body is just a part of being human,” said Erika.
Haters gonna hate, so you keep your head up.
“And I was like, ‘Let’s just try. Let’s just go for it.’ So we started online in September,” recalled Brenna, now standing in the new store, which is filled with clothing up to size 6X.
Downtown aficionados are thrilled.
“It’s going to add to our mix. It’s part of the Victoria vibe. We have a lot of businesses that already do that. Having one that specializes in plus-size is great,” said Bruce Hallsor with the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA).
Locally owned and operated
So customers smile knowing there’s a place where they fit right in.
“Trying to buy affordable clothing to start with is already so frustrating. Finding someplace like this that was small and community-owned was so cool,” said Klassen.
“If you’re on a budget, there are definitely options here,” added Brenna.
Fat Sisters is open Wednesday through Sunday on Fort near Blanshard, where the owners hope their feat will be a plus-size shopping destination for years to come.
“We are for sure here for four months, hopefully longer,” explained Brenna. “We’re using this time to test the market, see how it responds. See how the location is, see how the size is.”
And ultimately, do some good.
“We just wanted to make it better for people who look like us,” added Erika.
“This store is for anybody. Women, men, they/thems, Two-Spirit individuals, like anybody. And the way the queer community has been so cool to see.
“It melts my heart.”
Shoppers can also shop Fat Sisters’ clothing online here.
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