Woman works her way up from homeless to business owner

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DESOTO, Kan. -- A local woman, who was homeless and down on her luck, bartered for business and now is a part of a real-life rags-to-riches story.

In downtown Desoto, Kan. a 100 year old building has sat empty until just recently. Because Dee Dee McDowell believes prayers led her to the 5,600 square foot space.

“I had prayed either take me away or put me where I need to be,” said McDowell.

Homeless, unemployed, living in a car, McDowell has been bartering for business and is now opening a consignment store.

“I started out with a pair of boots that I sold on Craigslist.  Took that money and bought a phone.  And then I sold the phone and just kept building up,” said McDowell.

McDowell blames a perfect storm, a bad economy and loss of a job, plus divorce and an injury for landing her at rock bottom.

She calls the owner of the building, Loya Beery, a godsend.

“Everything is kind of calm uptown. We`d like for it to hustle and bustle a little bit,” said Beery.

Beery, who was born and raised in Desoto, said she's met most of the people who live there. But she had never met McDowell until the space, and a business plan brought them together.

“She`s really working hard to make something of herself and start a business and I know how hard that can be,” said Beery.

Beery believes a consignment store is just what this small town needs, that and a success story.

“You just can`t ever give up. Don`t ever, ever, ever give up,” said McDowell.

McDowell’s store will start taking consignments on Saturday. She says a portion of proceeds will go to charities that help people get back on their feet.

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