Harold Blake is celebrating his 30th year at Avanti Elegant Boutique, his women’s clothing store located at 5949 W. Chicago Ave. in Austin, with something every woman will appreciate — a 50 percent off sale.  

In early November, he’s replacing racks of pastel and lighter weight clothing with heavier winter wear, so it’s a good time to hunt for bargains.  You can reach him at (773) 378-8514 or by email avantihal@att.net. During a visit to his store earlier this month, Blake talked about his life and his store. 


I grew up in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, and came to Chicago in 1959 and opened a beauty supply store in 1983. A friend suggested I get into selling clothes. I live in Austin and I’ve run this store since 1987. 

I like meeting people, and I enjoy meeting a lot of the women. You ask what they want in sizes and colors and if they’re not sure, tell them to just look around.

A lot of my customers are mature women and we have plus sizes. They’re looking for reasonably priced suits, hats, dresses, jewelry, purses.  I sell some shoes too. 

Suits, especially dressy for church, are the bestselling clothes at Avanti. I try to get the jump on distributors when summer ends and winter begins. They sell off everything at low prices, so I pick it up and try to save my customers money, too. I always have a rack of clothes I’m selling at 50 to 60 percent off. 

Fashions change and business is slower now, because people are not dressing up like they used to. But I’m still here, every Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It’s something to do rather than sit at home.



"Barrelhouse Bonni" McKeown, the author of "West Side Blues Blog," has played piano and written about blues music for over 15 years. www.barrelhousebonni.com  She has led classes for young and old on...