Family is important to Rhonda Thomas and if that were even in question, it’s apparent as the shop name of her downtown Oakdale business.
LulaMae Emporium, located at 132 N. Yosemite, Oakdale first opened in May of 2021.
Returning to the workforce after a try at retirement, Thomas used the names of her five granddaughters as inspiration to create her shop name.
“I tried to retire and it wasn’t for me,” Thomas said. “I did all the gardening, canning, you name it and finally I said ‘okay’ and returned to work.”
Prior to her retirement, Thomas had a shop in Livermore, where she rented space to vendors, an experience she describes as much different than owning your own retail space.
It’s a journey which began when her mother passed and she began refinishing furniture.
“My mother passed and the best way to get through that was to create and so … that’s what I did,” she said of her hobby turned business.
With a background in accounting, her Livermore shop was home to anywhere from 35 to 50 dealers from 2012 to 2017.
Opening her current space just felt like the right thing to do. Described as a labor of love, Thomas enjoys helping women feel their best and look their best.
“Very Oakdale,” she said as she described the shop, “A little bit glam, a little rustic. Kind of a blend before the two. I try hard to do that. It’s a little difficult to go with all these things blending to do that, but I love doing that.”
The shop owner shared she feels her inventory is catering to women 30-35 years and up. Lula Mae recently started carrying Democracy Jeans with a size range from 0 to 24. A jean Thomas described as a cut which fits the mature body.
“We have a little something for everyone,” she said of the shop space, noting “real women” sizes as important to her. She spends lots of time sourcing resources that carry a full size range.
With clothing ranging in sizes she also carries Kate Spade bags, shoes, handbags, home decor, accessories, candles, hats, lip gloss, furniture, specialty items and Christian items.
“There is hardly anywhere that you can find a devotional or find a journal, a perfect gift and the Christian book store is closed now,” she said of the selection of items throughout the store.
“Most people in Oakdale appreciate Christianity and conservative values and I didn’t see anybody else doing this,” Thomas said of including the Christian assortment to her shop. “It’s not just to fill a need, it’s also to have a certain kind of witness in this part of town.”
While the fashion and variety may bring customers back, it may be the unique hides (cow hides) displayed on Yosemite Avenue which catch the most attention.
“My hides are premium quality,” she said. “I have a supplier and she inspects them all very carefully. I don’t sell second rate; nothing has a hole or bare spot. My prices are very reasonable for premium hides. I have a very unusual selection.”
As the chill starts to fill the air, the inventory in the shop will reflect exactly what shoppers may be looking for.
“I’m not going to say holiday, I’m going to say change of season clothing that should take us all the way up until February or March,” Thomas said of the new looks that are arriving.
However, for those on the hunt this holiday season, LulaMae has something for them as well. A variety of affordable items which are perfect for a hostess gift, last minute gift exchange or for the deserving teacher.
“We also do gift baskets here,” Thomas said, adding that guests can simply come in, give her a budget and she’ll pull something together.
“The most favorite part is meeting people,” she said of returning to work and owning her own business. “Hopefully everybody leaves with a smile, whether they buy or not. I don’t care. Just come in and find it to be a peaceful place.”
LulaMae can be found on both Facebook and Instagram.