Like many, Sarah Barstow came to Moab for a weekend promising outdoor adventure.
That was 1997.
Fifteen years later, Barstow, owner of The Rave’N Image, is still here. The adventure continues.
During her initial years in town,Barstow worked odd jobs to make ends meet until one day she “grew tired of being poor.”
“I have never been that girl that cared about clothes, but everyone I knew in town was driving to Grand Junction to buy their clothes,”Barstow said. “I thought, ‘There’s a definite need for affordable clothing in Moab.’”
So in 2003, she opened her boutique.
She decided to do so for a number of reasons: her understanding of the local economy and the need for hip clothing without a high price tag, her love for jewelry and her love for Moab.
“I had to find a way to afford to stay here,” said Barstow, who didn’t even have a business plan when she first opened her doors at the Center Street location that is now Sabaku Sushi. “I knew within two weeks that the business would work.”
A small following of shop-goers and a unique inventory quickly created a demand among locals and visitors. Within two years, The Rave’N Image tripled its real estate when Barstow moved her shop into its current location in the Eddie McStiff’s Plaza, 59 S. Main St.
“We don’t carry what other stores in Moab are selling,” Barstow said. “If you want a T-shirt with ‘Moab’ on the front, you’ll have to try any other store in town.”
So what exactly do customers find when they walk through The Rave’N Image doors? Funky clothing, jewelry, journals, greeting cards, bath and body products, hats, swimsuits, candles, totes, wallets, belts, buckles, organic body jewelry, used clothing and more.
Over the years, Barstow said, out-of-town clientele are often return visitors who insist that The Rave’N Image is a must during their visit to Moab. They love the boutique so much that she has been asked to open stores outside Moab, she said.
For now, distant customers will have to settle for phone orders. She takes special orders from her collection of catalogs or talks to a customer about what he or she is looking for and sends them an item from her current inventory – with a satisfaction guarantee, of course.
“A few years ago, one of the Salt Lake City news anchors bought a great jacket from me,”Barstow said. “While wearing it, she happened to mention on-air where she bought it.”
Barstow received no less than a half dozen calls the next day to purchase the jacket.
Current and potential customers who are more clothes-oriented than Barstow once was will find various eco-conscious, conscientious and quality items and brands to choose from including: Luna Claire; Synergy; Jedzebel; Papaya; and Pacifica, among others. To encourage local shoppers, Barstow gives a 10 percent discount on any purchase over $10, offers a separate student discount and buys and sells used clothing.
What matters most to Barstow in her inventory choices: quality and the fact shoppers aren’t likely to find the item anywhere else, even outside of Moab.
“I used to be a thrift store hound,” she said. “Now, I have no patience for the digging and searching. So I make sure that everything in the store is cool so people can easily find something worth purchasing.”
This weekly feature highlights a Moab business. E-mail Meredith at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions or tales of an exceptional experience.