Emblazoned on a wall in Lufkin’s premier plus-size boutique is the following phrase: “Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top.”
The line is from the popular song “All About That Bass,” which is kind of like Junk in the Trunk Boutique’s theme song, said co-owner Chelsey Barbe.
Chelsey runs Junk in the Trunk with her husband, Hunter. She first opened the store in April 2016 in the East Texas Vendor Mall on Frank Avenue in Lufkin, and it has steadily grown ever since.
Junk in the Trunk began in a 10-by-10-foot booth in the vendor mall before moving to a 10-by-20 space within a month. That summer, the store moved to its first stand-alone facility, which was around 1,000 square feet, on Chestnut Street.
Chelsey’s goal had been to move the store into a stand-alone facility in a year, and it happened in about three months.
Now the boutique is in a 2,000-square-foot space behind Buffalo Wild Wings in Lufkin at 105 Miles Way, Suite 300. Chelsey and Hunter recently launched a website, junkinthetrunkboutique.com, where customers can buy items online; although the online selection is limited, they’ve shipped to places like California and Missouri.
Chelsey said Junk in the Trunk is the only all-plus-size boutique in East Texas. Her goal is to make customers feel welcome and included.
“I try to make it inviting to where you feel like you don’t have to be a size zero,” she said. “You can come in and be a size 30, and we’re going to find something for you. Everyone’s like, ‘I’m so glad that I know I can come in and get several things, and everything is in my size.’
“I had one lady message me (recently) — she’s in Kansas, and she said she’s making a special trip down here for her birthday. That’s all she wants, is to come to a store that’s completely just for her.”
“It’s not just that it’s plus-size,” Hunter said. “There’s Cato and there’s other places that carry plus-size, but it was like grandma’s clothes. It’s not trendy.”
“Just because you’re big, that doesn’t mean you want to be in Grandma’s curtain,” Chelsey said. “That’s what people said — ‘I want to wear the cute stuff, too.’ We’re trying to get everything — we have sleeveless; we have shorts. I don’t wear shorts or sleeveless stuff, but there’s other people that do. ... From 1X to 6X, I want everyone that walks in to be able to find something.”
Chelsey said she tries to carry as many American-made products as possible, “because it’s better quality, and it’s giving back,” she said. “It’s keeping jobs in America.” She also tries to cater to all age demographics.
“I’m 26, so I try to get stuff for people my age, and I try to get stuff for the older customers … more modest, maybe not crazy patterns, more solid. My grandma shops with me all the time, so she’ll help me out, like, ‘This is what I like, so you should try to get this.’”
Even guests who aren’t looking for plus-size apparel can find something to buy at the boutique, as it also carries jewelry, accessories and car scents.
Another way Chelsey has made the store alluring to customers: pops of color. The colorblock green, pink and leopard-print walls of the store are adorned with equally colorful paintings, decor and signs displaying inspirational phrases.
“The brighter, the better,” Chelsey said. “I wanted something that was bright, something that didn’t just look like a department store, something that lifts your spirits when you walk in, because it’s hard to be upset when it’s so bright. I want people to walk in and feel like they can be 100 percent themselves. I know I’ve walked into a store before and I felt that I didn’t belong there because they didn’t have my size or they had one or two things for me. I want women like me to feel like, ‘I can go in here and be myself and no one’s going to judge me; no one’s going to look down on me, no matter my size.’
“My main emphasis is to have a place that you feel beautiful in, that you have tons of choices and you’re not limited.”
Store hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Call (936) 630-9060 for more information.