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Devoted thrift-shopper opens shop for plus-size women

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Cathy Dobson

Danielle Catton, a longtime advocate for the larger woman, is flexing her entrepreneurial muscle with the launch of a secondhand, plus-size clothing shop.

Catton, 32, says what motivated her to open Elle & Cat in early December was her love of “thrifting” for gently-used clothing, and a desire to meet the needs of larger women while helping the environment.

The name is derived from her first name (DaniELLE) and last (CATton).

“In Sarnia, as a plus-size woman, I know there are not a lot of options,” she said. “You can’t just walk in a store and know you’ll find something that fits.”

Elle & Cat offers blouses, pants, dresses and lingerie sizes 16 and up. Each item has been selected by Catton as she rummages through thrift and vintage stores across southwestern Ontario and beyond.

Nothing goes on the rack unless it’s nearly new. Some clothing items still have their tags but came from thrift stores and are sold at secondhand prices.

For instance, a “Mind The Gap” XL T-shirt Catton bought in London, England is priced at $6 at Elle & Cat but costs $20 new.

A 5X mustard-coloured pant from “Love & Legend” retails new for $59, and Catton is selling it for $30. A pair of like-new size 20 jeans is on sale for $22.

“Here’s one of my favourite finds,” she says, holding up an XL black faux leather jacket with a “Joe Fresh” label. Catton has placed a tag on the hardly-used jacket that reads, “Dang, this will look amazeballs on you.”

It was $60 new but $25 on the Elle & Cat rack.

“I call thrifting ‘treasure’ hunting,” she said. “It’s a fun hobby.”

Once she buys something for the store she goes online to confirm what it costs new. She includes that information on each tag so Elle & Cat customers can decide for themselves if they’re getting a good deal.

“Any kind of thrift shopping is cool in my eyes because you’re saving money and making an environmental impact,” said Catton. “We’ve all heard of fast fashion and how much North Americans buy new, then throw away.

“We all need to do our part to stop that.”

Catton is the founder of Sarnia Speaks, held the first Curvy Beach Party for all body sizes at Canatara Park last summer, and is a communications specialist at the Bluewater Health Foundation.

Having worked in retail for 10 years and armed with a business admin diploma from Lambton College, Catton said she’s well-prepared to take on her own business.

“I’m starting small and taking one day at a time,” she said. For now, Elle & Cat has two large racks of clothing but Catton is hoping to expand.

She accepts plus-sized clothing on consignment and offers cash on the spot for anything she buys. Appointments can be made by emailing her at [email protected].

Your Local Girl Gang, a collective that operates out of the Downtown Market on Christina Street, is a large component of Catton’s business plan.

Elle & Cat is located in The Local Girl Gang’s new fashion department on the second floor of the market. Catton rents the space from the collective and pays it a percentage of sales.

“The collective is a gem in Sarnia,” said Catton. “They give people like me some guidance and help with a lot of overhead and startup expenses.

“My biggest challenge is letting people know I’m here.”

Elle & Cat is located at the Downtown Market, 140 Christina St. North.

Open Tuesday to Thursday 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.; Friday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Visit

https://www.elleandcat.com/

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