VALDOSTA – When close friend Lisa Straughter came to her home one early morning with the vision of opening a boutique, Diane West said she didn’t take her seriously at first. 

“The next day she came back and said ‘I found us a building,’ and I was like this girl is really serious,” West said.

Straughter and West opened Just Rent Me and More boutique, a clothing store that offers rentals and items available for purchase.

While Straughter is no longer one of the owners, the store was her concept.

Last year, she searched for a gown to wear to a fundraising gala she hosted for her nonprofit organization.

Struggling to find affordable attire that she would wear for the one night, Straughter thought of others who may have her same dilemma – thus she established a store that would provide rentals.

She then turned to West, her friend of 15 years, to open it.

“She was so passionate about it, and she said God showed her that,” West said. “God told her that.”

West said she has wanted to open a boutique since her 20s though she was too afraid to do it. Her passion comes from her mother who she describes as elegant and beautiful.

“When I turned 50, I was like let’s do it,” she said. “I have nothing to lose now.”

It hurt Straughter to leave Just Rent Me and More to focus on other ideas, but she said she was confident in leaving the boutique to West.

“I didn’t worry about it,” Straughter said. “All God did was give me the vision, but the vision was not for me, it was for my sister.”

The boutique officially opened Feb. 1, and the grand opening was in early May.

Both West and Straughter said they wanted the store to be located in Downtown Valdosta because that’s where they first met during a First Friday.

“She’s just as close to me as my blood sister,” Straughter said.

Just Rent Me and More is now co-owned by West’s friend, Shirley Mcrae, her nephew, Ramzee Cooper, and her brother, George Cooper.

West said she thinks her business being family owned will be beneficial.

The store provides sundresses, rompers, high-waisted jeans, jewelry and purses. A shoe collection will be offered starting this fall.

Customers can fill out a form to rent attire, or they can purchase it. Rentals must be returned within three days.

Staff will have all returned items cleaned. Pricing depends on the clothing item’s detail.

“A lot of people have been straight buying the dresses,” West said. “But I’m trying to get their mindset (to) you don’t have to buy it. You can rent it, and I’ll have it cleaned for the next person.”

Just Rent Me and More ships to other states such as Texas, Missouri, Arkansas and military servicepersons overseas, West said.

Models are employed to represent the boutique.

In the back of the store, the Beauty Lounge will be open for customers to have their makeup done.

Just Rent Me and More is located at 117 N. Ashley St. Hours of operation are 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Call (229) 474-4387 for more information.

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