by Kyle Swenson
Renee Lavelle was in the final wind-up to her entrepreneurial dreams when things took a turn for the weird.
For the last three years, the former bartender has been crafting handmade clothing under her Thirstee label — rhinestones-studded T-shirts and clothing meant to catch the eye. After scratching around with mostly online orders, Lavelle got ready to take it to the next level, signing a lease on a storefront on Madison in Lakewood where she could showcase her products full-time. Doors open June 9th.
But on Memorial Day — which happens to be Lavelle’s birthday — the entrepreneur got a phone call from Lakewood police: That morning an assailant had smashed through the front display window featuring a shirt with “Bartender” spelled out in sparkle. Three other T-shirts — for bikers, breast cancer survivors, and a bride-to-be — were also lifted.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the work of a criminal mastermind. The blood trail led to a next-door apartment. Answering the police’s knock was 38-year-old Shawna Neumann — wearing the bartender shirt. She was arrested, and is currently out on bond. (Neumann declined to comment when reached by phone.)
“I guess she just couldn’t take it: She kept walking by my shop, so she had to have it,” a laughing Lavelle tells Scene. “Maybe she’s a bartender who likes to ride bikes, has breast cancer, and is getting married. I don’t know why she just grabbed them.”
Lavelle doesn’t sound rattled by the break-in, although she says it did create some pocketbook hurt she wasn’t expecting. Regardless, the opening is still set for this Friday.
“I’m trying to keep a good sense of humor about it,” she says. “It cost me $300 just to replace the window, not to mention the merchandise. Not to mention it made for a shitty birthday.”