Four years ago, Jade Noble asked her boyfriend a somewhat hypothetical question.
At the time, Noble worked at Frances, the longtime central Phoenix boutique known for its unique selection of gifts, clothing and décor and head-turning gift-wrapping.
A native Phoenician, Noble also had shopped at Frances for years. She knew it well.
“Wouldn’t it be cool if we owned this?” Noble asked boyfriend Emmanuel Tripodis, referring to Frances. “He said, ‘Would she sell it?’”
Back then, Tripodis’s question in response may have seemed rhetorical. Frances’ original owner, Georganne Bryant, was as much a staple in the city as her shop, which she opened in 2006. The chances were unlikely.
Fast-forward to this year: the question was no longer so, well, out of the question.
Noble always assumed owning Frances was impossible. When Bryant announced she planned to sell the shop and asked Noble if she ever thought of buying it, Noble said she didn’t think it was realistic.
But they were able to make a deal that worked for both sides. Noble and Tripodis, who also own Phoenix bar Linger Longer Lounge, purchased Frances and fully took over this summer.
“I always loved it. It was the first boutique of its kind and it was always so special,” Noble said. “It was always my dream to have a shop like this.”
How Frances looks with new owner
Bryant wanted the integrity of business to stay the same. Noble is committed to doing that, along with incorporating her own spin.
Adding more sustainable, or slow fashion, is part of that. New brands of clothing, such as Freedom Company that makes clothing from organic recycled cotton made in the U.S., jewelry and accessories have joined the favorites in the inventory.
Sustainability and supporting local vendors are huge on Noble’s business plan. She carries the local vendors Frances is known for, and continues the Crafeteria event which features unique and one-of-a-kind goods from local vendors from across the Valley, like Iconic Cocktail Co., Desert Dust Jewelry and Voyager Bakeshop. This will take place every Saturday through Dec. 18
“Focusing on locally made items cuts down on shipping, and the dollars are staying in your community,” Noble said. “There’s nothing more sustainable than that.”
Noble finds herself part of a support local upswing. Post-pandemic, 74% of Americans want to support small businesses more, according to a Union Bank small business report. And 56% of shoppers plan to buy more from independent and local brands during this holiday season, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers.
Amid the new additions, the trademark Frances gift wrapping service remains. Noble is pretty skilled at it and knows how to make the branded bags, tissue and ribbons sing and generate excitement when its recipient sees the big “F.”
“It’s so recognizable, you know it’s from Frances. It’s a special old school service that most stores don’t do anymore,” Noble said.
Lindsey King has regularly shopped at Frances since moving to central Phoenix 12 years ago. On Mondays, King and her best friend would stop in. It was also the spot where they got gifts for others — and each other.
A last-minute shopper, King appreciates that not only is it a great gift source, but the wrapping service makes it extra appealing, convenient and a way to impress recipients.
“You can stop on your way to a bridal shower or baby shower and no matter what, you can walk into Frances, get a card, buy something and they wrap it up super cute,” King said. “You see that packaging and you just know.”
In recent years, King shopped at Frances about twice a month. Since Noble took over, she’s going more frequently. She likes the addition of more brands that are sustainable and approachable. Pants, hair clips and “the cutest socks” are among her latest buys. She also loves the baby clothes.
“I’m excited about the new changes and it’s got a fresh feel to it,” King said. “I’ve been going here for so long and seeing everything here now, I’m excited again.”
‘I feel so lucky’
A native of south Scottsdale, Noble’s connection with Bryant goes deeper than customer-turned-employee. In high school, she knew Bryant’s daughter, comedian and Saturday Night Live star Aidy Bryant. That piqued Noble’s initial interest in Frances. After that first visit, she was hooked.
“It was just very different. A very cool store with fun brands. It was a place you could shop at that wasn’t in a mall. It kind of made Phoenix feel like a big city,” said Noble, who especially loved the jewelry.
Years later, Noble is excited to live her professional dream. But she admitted there’s a bit of pressure to live up to the reputation of the shop she knows and respects well, as well as being in the company of local business advocates like Kimber Lanning, the founder of Local First Arizona. Lanning owns the neighboring Stinkweeds record store and the building that houses Frances.
“There are definitely some big shoes to fill. Even mentioned in a field with Georganne and Kimber is a wild feeling,” Noble said. “But I think overall, I’m excited to be given the opportunity.”
Feedback from longtime regulars and newbies checking it out for the first time is positive. Many tell Noble that they’re excited it’s still Frances and staying in the community.
“It’s really about seeing people come in and get excited about shopping. I’ve always loved retail because seeing people try on clothes makes them feel good about themselves or just having fun … . I couldn’t ask for anything more,” Noble said. “It’s amazing. I feel so lucky.”
Where: 10 W. Camelback Road, Phoenix
Factoid: From 2016 to 2021, small retailers have had average revenue growth of 51.3%, according to American Express-owned online financial technology company Kabbage.
Details: 602-279-5467, shopfrancesboutique.com