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The Queen of Quirky Taste

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When Georganne Bryant thought about opening her own boutique, she researched boutiques in L.A. — you know, the stark shops in super-edgy 'hoods that buzz customers in — and found exactly what she didn't want. Bryant wanted to peddle her wares in the north central Phoenix neighborhood she calls home.

So she talked to her then-teenage daughter. Bryant's kid said, "Look for a place near Stinkweeds." Bryant listened. She looked. Her idea of what she imagined would be a "sleepy little dry-goods store" snowballed. Six months later — and smack-dab next to Kimber Lanning's Stinkweeds record store — Bryant opened Frances, a quirky boutique named for her grandmother (a well-accessorized woman with a pink kitchen) where you can find everything from a Bauer bowl to a Topo Ranch T-shirt. (Read more about our favorite boutique.)

A five-year survivor of breast cancer, Bryant has perspective — and no desire to leave her neighborhood. She'll soon launch an online store (for those non-Phoenicians of the world who crave her assortment of men's, women's and baby clothing, vintage wares, art, accessories, gifts and paper goods) but has no plans to open other locations.

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Georganne Bryant

Frances will stay an original.

Inspired by renegade craft fairs in places like Chicago and Brooklyn, Bryant is constantly re-evaluating her merchandise. She digs the concepts of local and handmade.

She admits that buying is the most challenging (and fun) aspect of the business. Having just returned from a San Francisco buying trip, she's pleased that she found some well-priced holiday items. She knows that people can't spend like they did last year.

Frances' marketing strategists — Bryant, her daughter (now 21 and away at college), and her daughter's friends — conduct meetings cross-legged on Bryant's living room floor. They make sure Frances evolves along with tastes and the economy to meet the needs of its customers: 7-year-olds, 70-year-olds, high school girls, young couples on weekends.

It works. Frances has quite a reputation. One customer boasts that she hasn't bought a birthday present anywhere else since Bryant's store opened in May 2006. Another tells a story about a party where she spotted "at least 14" Frances gift bags (telltale brown paper, distinct black and white bird-in-tree logo, funky ribbon).

"Oh, no!" Bryant laughs, when told of this. "Were there any duplicates?"

Nope, not a one.

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