Meet Zontaye Richardson: A Woman Making a Difference in Dayton, Ohio and Owner of TheZe DealZ - A Thrifty Boutique
Shyra and I are thrifty shoppers, so we were excited to feature Zontaye, the owner of TheZe DealZ - A Thrifty Boutique. But, TheZe DealZ is unlike your typical thrift store. It’s an oasis for the Dayton community to connect and thrive. In 2017, TheZe DealZ won Dayton’s Best Thrift or Consignment Shop title by Dayton.com.
The shop is located in the heart of West Dayton, a sometimes forgotten place. Zontaye is here to change the narrative of our city, particularly in West Dayton. Keep reading our latest spotlight interview to learn more about Dayton’s newest gem.
Tell me a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to open TheZe DealZ ?
I’m a native Daytonian. I went to Residence Park Elementary and Belmont High School. I’ve always been involved with community service. I’m currently on the Board of the Wesley Community Center.
I love thrifting. I went to shops in the east, north, and south areas, but I couldn’t find any quality ones in West Dayton. So I thought, why not create my own. Everyone talks about this or that, but I’m going to do it. So I started the process 5 years ago. I visited more stores, including out of town and I took notes. I attended business classes and began making business plans. I had to take action steps to make it happen. But now I’m 1 year into having this business!
Prior to opening my store, I worked for Montgomery County for 10 years in the social service field. My ultimate goal was to work with individuals with disabilities. I have experience in customer service, including serving all types of people which has helped me now. Sometimes I see homeless people or people who appear to be on drugs, but I make everyone feel comfortable at my business. I cater to customers from all walks of life. I treat everyone with respect and they come back.
Why have you decided to have a brick and mortar business?
At first, we had a lot of momentum, and now my task is to keep that going. To help promote the business, there is a referral program, word of mouth, social media, and I host different community events. But to survive in the online world, I join forces with other businesses owners like me. We have a private Facebook group where we discuss what we need help with, such as how to get more people coming into our store.
What makes your business unique?
I have customers that come every week. They come because it’s an inviting environment, they can socialize and connections have been made. It’s more of gathering place and the clothes are the icing on the cake. We thrive on community engagement with a variety of activities. There just aren’t that many places in West Dayton that can happen.
We need more businesses like yours in West Dayton. Can you describe your events?
We have so many! We have game nights, fashion shows, and painting with praise events. We have a Breast Cancer Pampering Party, where we pamper and show survivors with love. And we participate in World Aids Day, where we raise awareness and have HIV testings. We also host networking events where we feature other small businesses during the summer. Business owners can come and set up shop at the store with their products. I want to be of assistance to them. For me, it’s more about the community. Clothing is just the avenue used to reach out to the community so that people can come in and tell their story, and get resources to help them.
On September 8, we are hosting a “Walk In My Shoes” event. We ask that people donate their used shoes to the store. Pick a pair of shoes where something happened, such as you recovered from cancer and use that to encourage someone else who will get the shoes.
What are some challenges you’ve faced as a business owner and how did you overcome them?
In January, someone broke into the store. It was very emotional because this is my space. The community rallied around me and helped pay for the window. I’m grateful that I got to keep the mission and vision alive. Having people come out and encourage me helped me to remain focused. We also had a flood so we had to revamp. I hit those hurdles, but I buckled down and re-evaluated the situation. I had to determine what was working and what was not, and I had to ask for help. I realized that I couldn’t do every aspect of my business.
What advice would you give to aspiring women entrepreneurs?
Preparation is key. You have to prepare for the roadblocks and setbacks. A lot of businesses don’t prepare, and that’s why they fail. You have to be ready financially too. Start with a solid business plan and learn all you can, by taking advantage of free research.
More about Zontaye…
What’s the best thing about having a business in Dayton?
The people. Often times, people don’t see the hope and value in West Dayton. But at my store, I’m seeing a blend of inspiration by the people in Dayton.
What’s your favorite item in your store?
I’d say the shoes! They are pretty interesting to see who had these and where were they wearing them.
Name one thing on your bucket list.
I’d say to go skydiving.