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Purses open source of income for recession victim
Jessica Foster straightens up the purses under the tent she has used as a mobile accessory store for over a year. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL
As a victim of the Great Recession, Jessica Foster quickly came up with the idea to find something that people were still going to buy in this tumultuous economy.

Unable to find steady employment, Foster spent days thinking of ways that she could go into business for herself as a way to cover her financial obligations.

And she settled on purses.

With 10 of the high-class bags to her name secured for her by a silent partner that acts as a buyer, Foster went out and unloaded all of them on her first day at what would become her new job. She was skeptical that the plan would work, but couldn’t help but be overjoyed when people started flocking to her mobile makeshift store.

“I don’t put any expectations into this on any day, and then any sale that I do make is a great one,” Foster said. “I figured out that while women are conservative with their money, they’ll still spend in order to look good and that’s exactly what these purses and bags allow.”

Dozens of colorful handbags – some with designs, some with studs, and some with rhinestones – hang from a blue canopy on Janet Way while signs posted along major thoroughfares direct traffic to the location.

Foster recently added elaborate wallets and pocketbooks to compliment the purses and handbags, and has earned the moniker “The Purse Lady” from her friends and customers around town.
While she might only spend a month in one location before moving to the house of another friend, the clientele she has accumulated are fiercely loyal and appreciate the value that her wares offer.

“Every once in a while I’ll go to the department stores and check the prices and I’ll find that I’m selling mine for half as much as what they’re selling for,” Foster said. “That’s part of the reason that people are so loyal.”

And while chocolate and roses has traditionally been the Valentine’s Day staple, Foster said she saw nothing but a steady stream of men on Feb. 14 who were out to purchase their wives and girlfriends new purses – a sign that her business has crossed over.

“I couldn’t believe how many men were here buying purses on Valentine’s Day,” Foster said. “One of the things that I enjoy about doing this the most is getting to know all of the different people, and I got to hear a lot of great stories on that day.

“I started off with just 10 purses, some wallets, and some sunglasses and things just kind of grew from there. I guess you can say that I’m happy how things ended up turning out.”