LAFAYETTE, Colo. — When thinking about disaster recovery, stocking a cute boutique may not sound like essential work. However, when the fires spared the women’s clothing store Due South in Lafayette the owners opened their business to any woman affected by the fires, inviting them to shop for free.
“Watching the news and then just seeing everything the next day, just heart wrenching,” said Noel DeVries, who owns Due South with her daughter and son-in-law. “So we were looking for ways to reach out to the community and just provide hope,” she said.
Due South posted on social media that the store would offer $500 worth of shopping to any women needing help after the fire. People from across the country started donating to the cause and Due South, raising the total high enough to host more than more than 40 women. As the donations have continued to come in, the store has arranged to help another 40 and there is now a waiting list for more victims in need.
“People were walking in the door with tears, I was able to give hugs and give free drinks and come in and spend five hundred dollars and you don't think about anything,” said DeVries.
DeVries' store is eclectic, even in its décor. Fire hoses the family found at an antique store hang in the rafters and serve as product platforms. An unintended nod, the owners say, to their family’s history with fire. A history that makes them all the more qualified to help their neighbors in need.
“My earliest childhood memory is holding my grandmother’s hand…walking through the rubble,” said DeVries’s daughter Dennae Hill.
When hill was a child and her parents had just moved the family to Colorado to start a church, an electrical fire that burned their home to the ground, exactly 28 years before the Marshall Fire struck.
“It was very raw at that time and like, ‘What are we going to do?’” DeVries recalled. “And God provided in incredible ways for us.”
DeVries says she can see the same uncertainty and pain in those coming to her store for help, and can offer advice from personal experience.
"It's hard," DeVries said. "It's it's not easy. But there's hope beyond this moment.”
“One gal came in yesterday and she just looked at me and there was a connection,” Hill said. “We had the most amazing hug that I needed, that she needed. It was special. It was something that I could give outside of clothing…a connection to someone is far beyond material things.”
Due South now has a waiting list of women who need clothing. The concern now is how the small shop can handle the volume. The owners are encouraging anyone wanting to help to connect with them on their Instagram account @due.south and the owners will post updates as they figure out how to move forward.
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