Diamonds are usually a girls best friend, but for Sue Hoelscher and Judy Mack, it has always been Brighton that put the sparkle in their eyes.
Their love for the silver brands jewelry, handbags, and accessory line has expanded their horizons; not only as BFFs, but also as working women for they are the newest owners of The Basket Case boutique in Belleville and Lebanon.
Several years ago, the two women were complete strangers. Judy moved in next door to Sue and an incredible friendship began to blossom. They had more in common than most women do - their two loves, one for the Basket Case and the other, Brighton.
Both women had been working professionals at the corporate level before electing to stay home to raise their children. As the children matured, the ladies planned to go back to work, but they envisioned something different the second time around.
I had always dreamed of owning my own business, especially one that made me look forward to going into the office every day, Sue said.
And Judy was secretly envious of her mother-in-laws longtime employment at The Basket Case and Memorial Hospitals gift shop.
I have always loved fashion and Brighton, both of which the Basket Case specialized in, she said. Mom got to be surrounded by fashion and beautiful things all day, and it made her happy. I wanted something like that.
Both Judy and Sue frequented The Basket Case to browse and oooh and ahh at all the pretty things. They often joked about buying the store from its owner.
Then, one day, my mother-in-law called me and said, Save your money, the Basket Case is for sale, Judy said. I thought she was kidding, but she wasnt. I called Sue and we jumped right on it, making an offer. Our offer was accepted.
Last October, Sue and Judy took possession of the Basket Case mainly keeping it as it was, but improving its inventory, prices and customer service.
One of our top priorities was to offer more affordable clothing than what was available there in the past to please our budget-minded shoppers, Judy said.
And in keeping with The Basket Case tradition, the ladies mostly only order one size from small through extra-large, and XXL and 3XL when available, of each article of clothing from suppliers so customers will know its a one-of-a-kind in the Metro East.
Judy and Sue say the business partnership has made their friendship even stronger. How lucky are we to live next door to our BFF and be able to work together on a daily basis?! Sue said. We get to travel to Market together, and have a blast doing it.
Best of all, we have been able to beef up our Brighton collections together, Sue said with an enormous smile.
A 50 to 75 percent off section and the family friendly atmosphere are two additional perks at The Basket Case.
We invite women to bring in their children and grandchildren when they shop, Sue said. We are mothers and know how hard it is to run errands with little ones, and we want to make the process easy.
Children will especially enjoy seeing the shop decked out for the holidays right now. They can even help Grandma or Mom find the Elf on the Shelf in the store to reap special discounts and prizes.
The Basket Case remains in the Lake Christine shopping center off Lebanon Avenue in Belleville, and at 215 W St. Louis Street in Lebanon. Gift cards are available and make an excellent gift idea for Christmas giving to teachers, friends, family members and other special people.
Be sure to check out the shops new selection of Luminara battery-operated candles and rechargeable votives, both with realistic flames; Jeff Liebs lead-free, electrically treated aluminum jewelry; Mariana guardian angel pendants; designer apparel by Joseph Ribkoff, Cartise, Christine Alexander, and Frank Lyman; and much, much more.
Holiday hours at the Belleville location are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Hours at the Lebanon boutique are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.