A store with tall glass windows and racks of bohemian clothes has won the hearts of many Harrisonburg residents. The Yellow Button, which opened in 2009, has blossomed into what employees describe as a trendy, high-end clothing boutique.
Miranda Ebersold, the owner of The Yellow Button, grew up surrounded by small businesses. Her father was the owner of his own construction company and her first job was working in a locally owned hair salon. She and her husband Chance both own small businesses downtown — he’s the owner of Black Sheep Coffee.
According to Ebersold, the downtown area didn’t have many shopping opportunities when she first opened. This observation inspired her to open her own business, but proved to be a challenge since shoppers visiting downtown didn’t have the incentive to visit multiple stores in one trip. Last fall, she moved her business to South Main Street.
“The beginning was hard because getting your name out there [and] having people come downtown to an area where there really isn’t that much shopping,” Ebersold said. “There is a lot more now, but when I first opened there was hardly any retail, so it really was a destination.”
Ebersold was only 25 years old when she started her business. Since the store’s opening, she’s undergone some significant changes in her life, including marrying the man she moved to Harrisonburg to be with and having two children.
“I can’t imagine my life without my business,” Ebersold said. “I always say it was my baby before I had babies ... I was there every single day — I lived, breathed and ate most of my meals too, probably, at the store.”
As Ebersold’s family has grown, she’s had to learn to give employees more responsibility.
Ebersold feels that the store’s merchandise speaks for itself. She touches every item of clothing before ordering it to ensure the fabric is soft and high quality.
“I think that the items that you get at The Yellow Button are unlike things that you would find anywhere else in Harrisonburg, and even beyond Harrisonburg in some cases,” Ebersold said. “We really strive to only have a few of each item and we really cater to people who want to be original.”
Mary Carter, an employee at The Yellow Button and senior communication studies major, began working at the boutique in 2016. She feels Ebersold’s effort to stock a diverse collection of clothes contributes to the store’s success.
“I really think that she caters to a wide variety of customers,” Carter said. “She really does try to get the mothers and older women who live in Harrisonburg to shop at the store while also getting the students from JMU to shop.”
According to Ebersold, many JMU students continue to shop at The Yellow Button even after graduating and moving elsewhere.
Grace Corey, a junior art history major, is also an employee at The Yellow Button. Corey feels many JMU students don’t know about the boutique and notices how the store’s personal touch leads to returning customers.
“I think we really emphasize personal experience where we’re making sure that we’re getting them fitting rooms and making sure that they’re getting the sizes they need,” Corey said. “Our first job working here is to make sure the customer feels comfortable. We’re answering questions and making sure they get what they need.”
Sometimes this emphasis on providing an experience for the customer leads to friendships beyond the typical customer and businesses owner relationship. Ebersold feels the relationships she develops with customers and employees makes them feel like family. This bond was tested when her daughter developed health issues as an infant. As customers found out about Ebersold’s situation, they formed a page to help deliver meals to her house to help her family. Her customers and her employees’ support touched her.
“It just really makes you appreciate living in a small town and being in a downtown area and having the sort of community that Harrisonburg is,” Ebersold said. “I was kind of blown away because I think of myself as having relationships with the customers that come in and I’ve seen their lives change and grow … but it’s different when you’re in a situation like that to realize that they actually do not just care about you and your store, but [they care about] your family and your life.”
Contact Jessica Kronzer at email@example.com.