Osky Native Brings Betsey’s to Iowa
In March 2020, the world came to a halt as the uncertainty of Covid-19 shut down retail, restaurants, and small and large businesses around the globe. But in Oskaloosa, Katie Johnston’s dream was just getting started.
Years earlier, one of Katie’s friends had introduced her to Betsey’s Boutique Shop on social media. The original Betsey’s was founded in 2011 to fill a need for retail in the small community of Rockford, Ohio. Through social media and online sales, Betsey’s grew to ship more than 500,000 packages in all 50 states. No doubt some of those packages landed on Katie’s doorstep. As she continued to follow and shop, Katie grew to admire the Betsey’s brand, style, and business model.
Then in fall 2019, Katie had the opportunity to visit one of a handful of Betsey’s brick-and-mortar franchises in Oklahoma. “I went into the store with the intention of shopping,” says Katie. “But I left with not only a giant bag full of clothes—but also a dream to bring a brick-and-mortar Betsey’s to Oskaloosa.”
Katie held onto that dream while she continued to raise her family with her husband Jesse and operate her in-home daycare of ten years. When in March 2020, Katie announced to friends, family, and clients her plan to quit her job and close her in-home daycare business, little did she know the big Covid-19 shutdown would happen a week later. “To say I was overwhelmed with ‘what if’s’ would be an understatement,” Katie says. “But through a ton of prayer and a huge step of faith, we kept pushing forward.”
On the bright, beautiful morning of August 15, 2020, in downtown Oskaloosa, a line of expectant shoppers—with masks and hand sanitizer handy—began at the door of 105 High Ave W, ran down the sidewalk, and wrapped around the corner building at the end of the block. The first brick-and-mortar Betsey’s in the state of Iowa was open for business!
Women from around Iowa and neighboring states made the drive to check out Katie’s shop on the exact day Katie had always planned to open—even before the pandemic. She’s thankful that she’s been able to keep her doors open and continue welcoming Betsey’s shoppers from near and far, especially during a challenging time for retail. “The reception has been overwhelming. Oskaloosa has welcomed us with open arms and shown support in ways we could not have anticipated,” says Katie.
Katie’s store has helped bolster visits to Oskaloosa’s historic downtown and nearby shops. “Because of Betsey’s social media notoriety, we get to show off our amazing community to people from all over the midwest!”
Betsey’s Boutique Shop
105 High Ave W • Oskaloosa, IA
“I get to see Oskaloosa shine every single day through the beauty of our downtown and the amazing people who visit.” - Katie Johnston, Owner
More women-owned shops…
Lu Roo & Co Boutique
115 S Market St • Oskaloosa, IA
Fun, affordable fashions for any age or size.
Style Me Crazy Boutique
115 S Main St • New Sharon, IA
Stylish clothes and accessories you’ll go crazy for.
Stella’s Salon & Boutique
1211 A Ave East • Oskaloosa, IA
Cute clothing for you, plus candles, decor,
and wall signs for your home!