“We wanted women to leave the store with something that made them feel great and look beautiful!”
With that simple, sublime philosophy, Bobbie Perry opened Miss Lizzie’s, an iconic women’s boutique in Kitty Hawk in 2001.
For more than 17 years, the comfortable, bright fuchsia storefront with lime green trim, and black and white shutters drew loyal customers from all over the Outer Banks and beyond, each client seeking what Perry calls “Fashion for the fun of it.”
“That was my goal and the goal of all the staff — to make sure everyone had a good time when they come in,” she says. “We served wine, had music, and liked to create a party atmosphere. At the same time, we wanted women to walk out with something that made them feel great.”
In September, Perry turned over the keys to Beth Wadle. But not before reflecting on what made her store special for so many for so long.
She loved hearing stories about Miss Lizzie’s. Like the one from a customer who was stopped on the streets of Paris by someone wanting to know where she got her top. Or the mom who wore a dress to her son’s wedding and outshined the bride.
It was amazing success for someone who prior to becoming a storeowner worked as an English teacher, a paralegal, and a stay-at-home mom.
But she harbored a deeper urge.
“I grew up in a retail family, and always wanted to own my own store,” she says. So in 2001, she opened her shop, naming it for her daughter, Elizabeth.
“She had some health challenges, and part of the reason was to give her a place to work,” she says of her daughter, who died in 2011, at the age of 31. “But it was for me, too. So it worked for both of us. Besides, what woman would not like a clothing store? I like clothes.”
She also likes people, and that leads to her biggest regret on leaving.
“I will miss the people. That was my joy, making these women feel good and look good.
She won’t miss the work.
“The hardest thing is finding enough hours in the day to do all of this,” Perry confessed. “It’s demanding — the buying, the merchandising, the pricing, the computer work, the list goes on and on. It was hard to get everything else done in my life. But I loved every minute of it.”
Some of those “other things” include traveling to places such as the trip to Africa at the top of the list, and doing more volunteer work in the community where she has lived since 1972.
“I’ve always donated when people come around for charity events,” she says. “That is always near and dear to my heart, because this community has been mighty good to me for 45 years. It’s just a great place to live.”
As she looks to her next phase in life, Perry knows she is leaving the legacy in great hands.
“Beth has the energy,” she says. “I hope she loves it as much as I have over the years, and will find as much joy in it and meet as many wonderful people as I have. I’m sure she will.”
Then she thought of one other thing on her “to do” list.
“I might finally get to go to the beach!”