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VIA: Access Atlanta

It took Kandi Burruss, cast member of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta,” three years to convince her friend Peaches Chin to open a clothing boutique. They had even come up with a name. But Chin kept stalling.

“I didn’t want it to hurt our friendship,” said Chin who met Burruss years ago when she owned several Atlanta boutiques. “It really weighed on me. I had to make sure we were on the same page.”

This week, Tags, is open for business in Smyrna’s West Village and not only are Burruss and Chin still friends, but the project has given Burruss a much needed diversion just weeks after the death of her former fiancé, A.J. Jewell. “I’m still in shock,” said Burruss, who has already received supportive letters from fans at the store (please, don’t send them there). “I like to keep busy with stuff like this.”

The concept for the store, they decided, would be “luxury for less” with most items under $100. Chin and Burruss source apparel and accessories for men and women at trade shows in Las Vegas and New York, paying more attention to price point than brand names.

Customers will find trendy items such as an ivory coat with elbow length sleeves by Love Stitch for $70. An eclectic mix of party and daytime dresses, including a bustier dress in an abstract print and a zippered bubble skirt mini dress, which average about $55 to $65. Acid wash and colored skinny jeans from Celebrity Pink are $59. Trendy T-shirts for men are about $25, and denim for guys is in the $130 range. There is also a broad selection of on trend jackets and button-down shirts for men.

In a departure from other boutiques in the area, they decided about 60 percent of the inventory would be for men.

“Atlanta is a fashion town. Anybody who loves fashion will love this store,” Burruss said. But “There are no places for men to shop in this area. We felt we had something different to offer.”

Accessories, displayed throughout the store, include belts, a range of costume jewelry and handbags.

Two spacious dressing rooms flank a sitting area with plush chairs and a bench where Burruss envisions customers hanging out and relaxing while their friends or significant others model their finds in the large mirror.

Some have raised eyebrows at the wisdom of opening a boutique in the midst of a recession, Burruss said, but she and Chin believe customers will be surprised at the store’s affordability. They plan to adhere to that standard, even when it comes to the possibility of stocking the clothing lines of Burruss’ cast mates Lisa Wu Hartwell and Shereé Whitfield. “We’ll give them the option,” Burruss said. “We want to support everyone.”

With a few details to iron out – there are pictures to hang and inventory yet to arrive – the friends are surprised at how quickly and flawlessly everything came together once they settled on a division of labor.

For now, Chin will oversee day to day operations, both will have a measure of creative control and Burruss, who began filming the “Housewives” reunion special on Monday, is charged with promotions and marketing.

It shouldn’t be too difficult, said Burruss, who was wearing navy blue skinny jeans and a sweater vest from the store racks.

“Everything in here, I’m going to want to take home,” she said. “I’ll be the best billboard and the best customer all in one.”

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