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Mannequins Bring Life to That Girl Storefront

The story behind the mannequins and messages gracing the downtown Royal Oak shop's ever-changing window display.

Regardless of their mode of transport, people on Washington Avenue tend to have one thing in common as they pass the corner of Washington at Lincoln: Their heads turn to the northwest corner.

The cause of their rubbernecking? The unconventional, ever-changing window displays at That Girl Clothing Resale.

Featuring a pair of mannequins with 6-foot banners stretching above their heads, the window displays on either side of the store’s entrance change almost every week, aiming to promote the store. But they’re not your run-of-the-mill mannequins, and the banners aren’t your typical "sale" signs. The life-size dummies have names, and the slogans in their respective windows help define their distinctly different identities.

“People look forward to seeing what these girls are up to every week,” That Girl owner Michelle Beck said of mannequins Charlotte and Savannah.

Naked mannequins have something to say

The “ladies” first graced the storefront a little more than a year and a half ago, just before That Girl opened. They were nameless, faceless and naked at the time.

“Before we opened, we needed to get clothes to open the store,” Beck explained.

So she placed the nude mannequins in their respective windows with banners draped over their bodies that read, “How humiliating, she’s making us sit in here naked!”

“Everyone loved that,” Beck recalled. “That’s what started it.” 

Introducing Charlotte and Savannah

Perhaps realizing she’d created a brilliant marketing tool, Beck decided to push forward with the unique display. She held a contest to name the ladies and create their personalities.

The final results brought us Charlotte, a prim and proper brunette, and her wild counterpart, Savannah, a high-maintenance blonde with an affinity for diamonds.

Typical exchanges between the pair include Charlotte asking, “Why is everyone staring at us?” and Savannah’s response: “Because they're jealous.”

Another set of banners read, “Do I look fat in this dress?” (Charlotte) and Savannah: “No, you look great and I look fabulous.”

Model awareness

But Beck’s favorite display to date did more than just promote the store; it spread awareness about an issue the entrepreneur had been affected by personally.

“I love the breast cancer display because it reminds people to do [a breast exam],” said Beck. “I've found two lumps while doing exams…. Fortunately they were benign.”

The particular display is more elaborate than most, and showcases Savannah behind a pink shower curtain asking for privacy as she conducts such an exam.

The next big thing to decorate That Girl’s windows will be a winter wonderland, just in time for the holidays.

Beck said it’s a display a year in the making. “I wanted to do it last Christmas, but I didn’t have the stuff for it,” she said of the peaceful yet festive window theme she'd had in mind.

Since then, she’s managed to find the fake snow to put the finishing touches on the display she’d envisioned. Savannah and Charlotte will be dressed as angels and the signs above their heads will read, “Peace on Earth” and “Good Will Towards Men.”

Until then, Beck will continue to drum up new ideas for signs each week.

Said Beck, “The people at the printing place always wonder what we’re going to come up with next.”

That Girl Clothing Resale is located on 738 S. Washington Ave. in Downtown Royal Oak. The store sells gently-used clothing and accessories.

drs November 22, 2011 at 04:05 PM
I love the store front and how creative they are each month with their banners-keep up the fun!

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