When Allison and Anna Williams graduated from University of Mississippi in 2021, they didn't picture themselves owning a boutique on Lower Greenville in Dallas. But the twin sisters are the fourth generation of their family to run a retail store, and they're now having a ball immersing themselves in the fashion business in the big city.
The Williamses' new women's clothing boutique, Five 54, opened this spring at 1906 Greenville Ave., next to Clark's Barbershop, in the buzziest neighborhood in Dallas. The shop is filled with on-trend styles in perky prints, comfy knits, and breezy fabrics appropriate for hot summers. (As seen on their cute Instagram page.)
They stock about 40 different contemporary brands, including sundresses, skirts, and tops by Reset by Jane; denim from Hidden; and separates and dresses from Fate and Olivaceous. And they prioritize affordability: most pieces are under $75.
The shop's name, "Five 54," comes from their grandmother's street address.
From small-town Mississippi to Big D
While the Greenville store is the sisters' first Dallas venture, it's actually the second location of Five 54.
The summer after they graduated college, the Williamses opened their first store in the small Mississippi town where they grew up. With a population of about 3,500 people, Hazelhurst was the perfect testing ground for their concept, they say. The family owned the space they opened in, so they were able to operate rent-free. Renovating the space in Mississippi took a couple of months and cost about $40 for permit applications.
While neither sister studied fashion retailing - Allison majored in Hospitality Management while Anna's degree is in Integrated Marketing - they both have a love for fashion, and for shopping. Their family's furniture business meant they'd grown up attending Furniture Markets in High Point, North Carolina, so the transition to buying apparel wasn't a difficult one.
The sisters love their hometown and appreciate the experience they gained with their first boutique, but they both wanted to expand not only their business, but their life experience.
"We’ve always wanted to venture off from Mississippi," Anna Williams says. "We had college friends and we would always visit (Dallas). We just love the big city and all the people and all the action."
A weekend trip to Dallas in August 2022 took them on a commercial real estate tour, as well as a tour of the city.
"We had so much fun," Allison Williams says.
Things started moving quickly after that. By September, they'd signed the lease for the shop. They enlisted their mom's experience as an interior designer as they mapped out their vision of the store.
Still getting started
Renovations started in October, and they soon learned that permits and renovations in Dallas were significantly more stressful than in Mississippi. Renovations in Dallas took more than six months.
Though the shop has been open for a few months, it still doesn't have a sign - they're waiting on a permit.
Having a store in Dallas, though, has allowed the sisters to create a different kind of shopping experience, they say.
"For the most part, we’ve been able to pick up a few brands that are unique to Dallas - more unique pieces that we wouldn’t be able to sell in Mississippi," Allison says.
The vibe in the store is as fun as their life in Dallas; they love living in the neighborhood and walking to work, they say.
While they've put down new roots in Dallas, the sisters still travel to Mississippi every six to eight weeks to visit family and check on their Hazelhurst store. A manager handles that location full time now, and Zoom and FaceTime help keep them in touch.
Dallas is as far as they plan to venture for now, and any future expansion will be focused on e-commerce from the