Lori Casas is on a personal mission. She wants to make each and every woman who walks into her new lingerie boutique feel sexy.
"Sexy is not a size. It's definitely something you feel," Casas said.
Sensually Spoiled Rotten Lingerie Boutique opened in mid-September on School Street, marking the first lingerie store to open in Lodi. Casas is offering women affordable lingerie and plus sizes.
"I carry 3X (sizes), and that's something I pride myself on because ... Victoria's Secret, my main competition, don't have any plus sizes."
The new boutique is already changing lives in a town where women had to drive to Stockton or Sacramento to get underwear and lingerie, Casas said.
One of her favorite stories since opening was when a woman came in with her two daughters, who immediately started pulling items to try on. The woman sat down, and Casas asked if she also would like to try on some lingerie. The woman insisted Casas did not have her size, so she was surprised to find herself in a dressing room trying on lingerie for the first time in decades.
"She called me the next day and told me she has been married for 37 years and has not worn lingerie for 25 years. She said, 'I just want you to know what you have done for me and my marriage,'" Casas said.
That is Casas' goal, helping women reconnect with their sexy figure no matter what their size. Casas has first-hand experience after she was in a car accident that shattered her leg, which resulted in the former runner gaining 70 pounds.
"I've always loved lingerie, and I decided just because I put on 70 pounds doesn't mean I'm not beautiful," she said.
When walking into the store, the bright colors and lacy fabrics immediately attract attention. Purple and black bras, three mannequins in detailed baby dolls, gold-sequined Vegas dresses geared toward New Year's Eve and bright green corsets pop against the light brown walls.
Her store is an extension of her closet, and she says the items she carries are classy, elegant, fun and flirty. While some of her items are sexy, sheer and silky, high schoolers can also come to buy a basic bra and panties instead of having to drive out of town.
There is a chandelier hanging above, the dressing rooms are spacious with flowing fabric draped over the chairs and a fireplace flickers in the waiting area, where men often sit eagerly awaiting to see their wife or girlfriend's choices.
"People come in and say, 'This is the most beautiful store in Lodi,' and then they compliment me on my prices," she said.
Nothing in her store is more than $50, Casas said, because she buys in bulk, and so that way she can keep prices soft.
She has baby dolls that start as low as $16, perfumes that go for around $30, corsets for $45 that would be $100 to $150 at the mall, and Guess purses for under $35, Casas said. Her panties are all $4.
Casas is also happy to special order for sizes that are not in her store. For example, one woman needed a 40B bra, so Casas had it shipped.
Since opening, Casas has already had to explain to people what she sells in the store.
"I want to have a strong positive image. I want people who have a stigma or stereotypical view to come in, so I can turn that around," she said.
Two women from a local church came in recently and said they did could not believe there was a "XXX store" in Lodi.
Casas gave them a tour, explained that they did not sell any X-rated toys or other such items and thanked them for coming into the store. The next week, one of the ladies returned to buy a nightgown.
"It's not a XXX store. Every woman wears a bra, panties, nightgowns, and we all use purses. This store is for every woman," she said.
Casas lives on a ranch in Clements and helps care for her mother, who lives on Vine Street. She owns the store with Kirk Olsen, who also lives in Clements, and they already have plans to open a store in Maui, Hawaii. In the next five years, she would like to open stores in Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.
"Wine, lingerie and chocolate — what's better than that?" she said referencing the many tasting rooms and the nearby Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory.
She plans to also work with wedding-related businesses in the area to court potential brides for one-stop shopping.
"For honeymooners, I have everything for a wedding. I have corsets, white teddies, purses and makeup. I even had a woman buy pearls to wear on the wedding day," Casas said.
She opened her store locally because she often worries about shopping in Stockton.
"Downtown Lodi is so comfy and nice. People hold the door open, people will let you into traffic," she said.
Her three daughters, who are 26, 25 and 21 years old, work in the store, and her 18-year-old son helped remodel — installing floors, painting and even building two large cabinets with lights to showcase the lingerie.
"This is a passion of mine that I believe in. It's something I can pass down to my kids," Casas said.
Having just moved in, Casas is trying to attract attention to her shop by participating in events, like the Lodi Street Faire on Sunday, where she will have a booth, and the School Street Wine Stroll on Oct. 19.
"I feel like people don't know I'm here. I'm the best-hidden secret in Lodi," she said.