Thinking of Mom

Welcome to Yreka’s Lona Mae’s…

When Kimberlee O’Neal moved from Sonora to Yreka a little more than two years ago, she was disappointed about leaving behind the co-op where she’d rented a small space to sell jewelry and accessories. But when she arrived in Yreka, she suddenly saw an opportunity. “I’ve always wanted to have my own shop. So, when we moved here and I noticed there weren’t many shops, my husband was like, ‘Hey, let’s try it.’ My youngest had gone off to college and we were empty nesters, so we just went for it,” O’Neal recalls.

Photos courtesy of Lona Mae’s

After settling on a space and working with the building’s owner to do some substantial renovations to the interior, Lona Mae’s opened in April 2021. In addition to jewelry and accessories, O’Neal has added women’s clothing into the mix, which has now become one of her most popular offerings. “I didn’t start out with a lot of clothing, but it moved quickly and there was a lot of demand. Now, I do a lot of basics and everyday wear. I like things that are comfortable and soft, because how something feels on your skin is super important to me. It doesn’t have to be fancy, just fashionable.”

Photos courtesy of Lona Mae’s

In fact, O’Neal relies on the inspiration she draws directly from her customers. “I like to look around at what ladies around here are realistically wearing and what makes them comfortable with regards to their day-to-day wear. I want them to look and feel confident in what they’re wearing.” It’s a consideration that is always at the top of O’Neal’s mind during her buying trips. “I’ve always been a shopper, so now it’s basically like I’m shopping for my customers. Now that I know many of my customer base, I’ll be at shows and be like, ‘Oh, this would be great for this person, or this would be great for this person.’ One of the perks of a small town is that you get to know your customers and what they like.”

Photos courtesy of Lona Mae’s

O’Neal has also been very conscientious about price point since she first opened her doors, making sure to find stylish, well-made clothes that don’t break the bank. “I don’t want to just appeal to certain people. I want anyone to be able to come in and find something they like and be comfortable. I know we’re not in San Francisco and people don’t make as much money here as they do in that kind of area, but that’s no reason not to look and feel good.”

She seems to have found that sweet spot between cost and elegance, which ties directly back to the name O’Neal chose for her shop. “Lona Mae was my mother’s name. She died of breast cancer about four years ago. I didn’t specifically name the shop after her, but I always loved her name. And, in thinking about it, she didn’t have a lot of money, but she always looked beautiful. Somehow, she always made it work. Things were always ironed, and everything was sharp. She had a beautiful, classy style.”

Photos courtesy of Lona Mae’s

Now, almost a year into her retail leap of faith, O’Neal is excited about the shop’s future and the future of Miner Street in Yreka, which is going through something of a revival as more shops pop up. “I’m actually doing better than I anticipated, and I’m really loving the community here. I have customers that just come in sometimes to ask how I’m doing or share my posts, even when they’re not buying something. I’m really loving living here. And now, I can’t imagine not doing this.” O’Neal’s husband, who is also known to occasionally help out in the shop, much to the delight of O’Neal’s customers, also sees a difference. “He’ll say to me, ‘You are so happy,’ and I’m like, ‘I am.’” When asked what her mom would think of the shop, O’Neal smiles. “She would have been really proud. I think she would have loved this store.” •

Lona Mae’s
326 W Miner St., Suite A, Yreka
(530) 340-4260
Find them on Facebook and Instagram
Open Wednesday – Friday, 11 am to 6 pm; Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm

About Megan Peterson

Megan Peterson is a freelance storyteller who loves her family, her pets, and Northern California. Her favorite part of writing is finding flow, and she always relishes a touching human story. Aside from Enjoy, she’s typically busy writing and producing for television, having created more than 220 hours of on-air content on networks ranging from National Geographic to Netflix.

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