Fashions from bygone era return at Boutique on the Bricks

FLINT, Michigan—Boutique on the Bricks is a direct connection to unique fashion of a bygone era in the city’s history, says owner Nancy DeKatch. 
“We’re talking about the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s,” looking out on Saginaw Street. “People come in and remember these stores,” she says. “These were the high-end women’s shops of the time and a lot of baby-boomers have hung on to these pieces because they’re quality-made.”
Boutique on the Bricks, located downtown in the Patterson Building, opened in July 2016. The store’s location is fitting for the styles and apparel offered. “We have handmade items from other countries and beautiful limited, well preserved materials that you’ll never see again,” DeKatch says.  
DeKatch moves purposefully throughout the store, which is also home to her nonprofit Caregivers Institute, a nonprofit that helps those providing in-home care for loved ones. Last year, DeKatch represented Michigan in the Golden Glamour Girl of America pageant, an event for women 50 and older who have contributed to society. 
“This was the area to spend time in when I was a teenager,” she says. “It was this strip, you know? it included Smith and Bridgemans, and just the whole downtown experience,” she said. “You came down here with your girlfriends to look at the latest fashions.” 
Boutique on the Bricks includes vintage hats and hat boxes from as far back as the 1920s from New York City as well as furs from Ferris Brothers Furs, DeKatch says. “And really we have just many different kinds of hats, coats and gloves, all handmade and some fine Chanel fabric pieces too.”
A trained tailor, DeKatch says she wants her store to function as a bridge to the past for younger generations. “We want to give children an opportunity to relive what we lived when we were kids,” she explains.
The Boutique also offers fine arts classes on the weekends and DeKatch is still working the runway in pageant shows. It was actually the trip to Galveston, Texas, for the Golden Glamour Girl of America pageant that inspired Boutique on the Bricks. There, she realized many bigger cities still had vintage shops for women’s clothing and apparel. She kept wondering: Why doesn't Flint have stores like that? Then, she thought: Why not open one herself?
“I mean, at this point in my life, I have a lot things and I know that vintage is still pretty popular,” DeKatch says. Her goal is to bring back the same clothing that used to be downtown, back in the days when her mother would take her to the sidewalk sales after finishing work as an elevator operator at the Mott Foundation. 
Beyond her passion for the past, and high fashion of different time, DeKatch says she has big hopes for Flint’s future. “I think Flint is a jewel in the rough,” she said, “I think there are a lot of people that don’t realize how fun it is, how much things are changing for the better, that there is this energy, activity and positivity and in a way, for me, it is like revisiting the past.”
Boutique on the Bricks is located at 635 S. Saginaw St. in downtown Flint. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays. For more information, check out Boutique on the Bricks on Facebook.

Read more articles by Jake Carah.

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