At the young age of 12, Laura Lamoureux knew she wanted to be a business owner. She was a papergirl for The Roanoke Times and was able to have an income as an adolescent. Her inspiration for hippie clothing and apparel came from a shop in downtown Blacksburg, called Fringe Benefit where she bought all of her clothes.
After graduating Blacksburg High School, she wanted to jump right into opening her business. However, her parents being teachers they wanted her to attend college. “I wanted to go to California,” Lamoureux said. Her mother not keen on the idea, found an advertisement in a magazine for Bauder Fashion College in Dallas, Texas. “That’d be cool,” Lamoureux told her parents and she headed off to Texas.
Lamoureux obtained a degree in fashion merchandising in the heart of the fashion world. “It was fantastic being in Dallas because everything was fashion, my school would give tours. When we toured the Dallas Apparel Mart, I told my friends that the next time we step foot in here I will be buying for my store,” said Lamoureux.
“Before I left college to come home after graduation, my friend took me to Mexico.” While in Mexico she realized that everything was so cheap, her light bulb turned on and she knew how she was going to get her business started. She then moved back home with her parents in Wytheville, Va. in December of 1984 and began working as a bartender.
“I caught wind of a place opening called Snoopers Antique Mall where people could sell collectibles, handmade goods, or antiques.” Then 26, Lamoureux started a booth within the antique mall with a thousand dollar loan and her recent purchases from another trip to Mexico where she bought blankets, jewelry and clothes. “Snoopers was great because you could be there to manage your booth or customers could purchase their items at the front register and Snoopers would get 10 percent of the sales.”
“Every month I would come up with two to three thousand dollars and take a trip to Mexico,” she said. “After some time, I ended up finding importers and exporters on the American side so I didn’t have to go to Mexico all the time.” Lamoureux made a goal that after three years working at Snoopers Antique Mall she was either going to open a bigger booth or find her own store front. Growing up in the Blacksburg area, she knew they already had a hippie store so she began to eye Radford.
Lamours Boutique was opened on Radford’s Main Street in 1987. She dropped the ending of her maiden name Lamoureux for the name of her ethnic store. “L’amore” in French means love and that’s what the hippie vibe is all about, universal love and peace. Lamoureux’s roots in the Blacksburg area have made her a very respected and distinguished person in the New River Valley. Ralph her Basset Hound, is her store companion alongside her husband and three sons who have helped her through the stresses and accomplishments of being a small business owner.
“My greatest accomplishment is happiness and being able to have raised my children in my store.”
Lamours Boutique has now been open for 25 years and Lamoureux and her family are celebrating the reality of a dream she carried since she was a young girl. “I have no regrets,” Lamoureux noted. “I am still learning, I’m always learning and I’m always open for suggestions.”