How Two 21-Year-Olds Started a Thrift Shop With No Money to Their Name

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Best friends-turned-business partners Casey Longyear and Marshé Wyche opened the first Rumors thrift boutique in 2007 with $0 in the bank

Casey Longyear and Marshé Wyche pose in front of their Chapel Hill thrift boutique, Rumors, with Casey's daughter, Zelda.

As told to Courtney Hayes | Photo by Jessica Berkowitz

A chance encounter led Casey Longyear and Marshé Wyche to become friends, then roommates and finally co-owners of Rumors, a thrift boutique with locations in Chapel Hill, Durham and Richmond, Virginia. Casey oversees operations at the North Carolina stores, which each have 13 and 14 employees, respectively, while Marshé looks after the Richmond shop and its 12 employees. Juliet Magoon, who has worked at Rumors since 2017, manages the Chapel Hill shop. “She worked her way up from a sales associate to be promoted to regional manager when I had [my baby, Zelda],” Casey says. “She works directly with me to run the Chapel Hill store, and I have her check in on Durham once a week as well. Micah Moses, who has been with the company since 2015, manages the Durham location.”

How did the concept for Rumors come about?

Casey We talked about opening a store together, and I’m sure it sounded like a crazy idea to anyone. But… [by] the end of the summer [in 2006], we decided to actually do it. Originally we were going to give ourselves three years to plan it, because what 21-year-olds can open a store impromptu? … But we decided to just speed it up and open the following June. So we opened up [in Richmond in 2007] literally a year after I graduated college with no funding. We did it all on our own as cheaply as possible, not by our choice. … We opened up that day with $0 in the bank.

What made you decide to open a store in Chapel Hill in 2013?

Marshé We love what we have to offer, and we are a store that’s really community-based because we literally get our product from the community and resell it to other community members, so it was really important that we find a place that needed us, as opposed to a bigger city that already has a bunch of boutiques and whatnot. Chapel Hill was just the perfect fit for that.

How do you want people to feel when they step into Rumors?

M If you look at the photography on our website, you see that we’re promoting people to be themselves and show their personality on the outside. That’s always been a huge part of what we want people to feel when they come into Rumors. We offer affordable clothing for all different styles, so someone has always been able to come in and change who they present themselves as easily and without any judgment … plus, we offer sizes 0 to 5X.

What do you love about your job?

C I love getting to love my job. We [each] got to create essentially our dream job and evolve it as we [also] grew. We started the store [at] 21. We’re 37 now, and it’s not like it’s been the same company the whole time. We’ve grown with it as it’s grown with us.

M My favorite thing about owning a business is that I own it with my best friend. And I really feel like Casey and I are good people to open a business, because we care about our employees and their future.

What are some of your favorite local businesses?

C Well, we’re in an awesome community called Midway, so all the businesses really band together and support one another. Syd’s Hair Shop is right next to us and is the most eco-friendly business I’m aware of in town, so they’re constantly very inspiring to me. Boro Beverage is a female-owned kombucha business that’s around the corner, and they’re awesome. I buy them for the staff all the time, too. The Baxter is right next door to Rumors, and my husband, [Nick Stroud], is one of the owners of that arcade. It’s a good place to take a family. I want to shout out Beer Study, too, because we actually opened up our Durham location [in 2019] next to them as well. So we’re next to Beer Study at both of our current North Carolina locations. We wouldn’t even have our Chapel Hill store if it wasn’t for the owner of Beer Study, [J.D. Schlick]. He gave us the landlord’s contact randomly, and we called and rented the spot from him.

What tips do you have for someone who’s visiting Rumors for the first time?

M Go through it like it’s a museum and you want to go through all the pieces. [Act] like you’re going to an art gallery, not like you’re going to like a traditional thrift store.

C And be aware that we carry hundreds of brands and that all the sizing might be different. So don’t just look through your size rack. It’s worth it to look through every rack in the store.

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