Story originally appeared in BND’s Lipstik Magazine in March of 2012. 

Every woman is entitled to nice things. That’s why Mary Fitzgerald has made it her mission to find beautiful pieces and offer them at bargain prices to ladies in the Metro East.

“You don’t have to break the bank to look like a million bucks,” said Fitzgerald.

img_2347In October of 2011, she opened Fabulous Finds in the old Weinel Lumber office building, where she sells clothing, jewelry, handbags, snacks, and many other items that make great gifts.  Fitzgerald loves to shop, and goes out of her way to find wonderful things.

“I travel to Chicago, Dallas, Kansas, and New York to attend markets and cash and carry shows,” she said. “I keep an eye on buyers from high end stores such as Neiman-Marcus, and I buy what they buy in bulk, which allows me to get substantial discounts.”

After bringing merchandise into her store, she passes those discounts on to her customers. All name brand sunglasses are just $10, and earrings range from $5 to $12. She also carries affordable unique home accent pieces and accessories. Fitzgerald’s goal is not to make money – it is simply to make women feel good about themselves.

“This is not a living,” said Fitzgerald. “It’s a hobby.”

Growing up, she didn’t have a lot of nice things.  She has always loved to shop, but could never afford much.  Now, she finds what she likes, including lots of sparkle and bling, and buys it for others to enjoy.

This is not the first store where Fitzgerald has sold upscale items at discount prices.  After working in the lumber business for 25 years, she opened Curtain Call, O’Fallon’s largest consignment shop. From 2004 to 2008, she sought out gently used upscale furniture and home accent pieces, and offered them to customers wishing to enhance their homes.

When she sold the shop, she used all of her earnings to take her mother-in-law and several others on a five-island Hawaiian cruise.

“Life is about having fun and about giving back to those who are kind to you,” said Fitzgerald.

img_2339Since opening Fabulous Finds, she has given back generously to the community. Every two months, she organizes a charity drive. In October for Breast Cancer Awareness month, she sold pink bars of soap with proceeds donated to the Susan G. Komen foundation.  In December, money made from the sales of snowflake ornaments and giftwrapping donations was given to local food pantries. And in her store, she has made it possible for women with disabilities to try on clothing in a comfortable atmosphere.

“If it hadn’t been for the people that were kind to me along the way, I probably wouldn’t be alive today,” she said.

With the support of her family and friends, Fitzgerald has found a way to enjoy life’s little luxuries, and to allow other women to do the same. She and her five employees have fun helping ladies play dress-up, socialize, and find fabulous things.

“I have it on my sign, and it’s the truth,” said Fitzgerald. “This little store really is Your Place to Find Wonderful.”