Tina A. has an intrinsic desire to help others. She loves helping her customers find high-end, reasonably priced clothing at Dos Resale Boutique in downtown Clayton. In November 2020, her desire to help others motivated her to participate in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.
Tina doesn’t like to hold onto anything that she no longer uses. Before starting her business, friends would ask when her annual yard sale would be. The inspiration for opening a resale store in Clayton happened 11 years ago when her older daughter Sorrell was in middle school and wanted a Juicy Couture track suit for Christmas. The two-piece outfit sold new for $250. Tina says, “I looked around and there were no resale stores in this area. We live in the area and I thought we need one of these.” It was also enticing to have a workplace where she could take her newborn daughter, Layla.
She named her new business Dos Resale Boutique because “Dos” is the Spanish translation “two”, a number that infatuates her though she doesn’t know why. She opened a small store on Forsyth before moving to her current location at 14 S. Central Ave. Layla, now in seventh grade, can often be found helping in the store.
Dos Resale Boutique has a niche selling high-end clothing trends. Tina has been buying and selling a lot of casual wear and athletic wear, including lululemon and Athleta this year. In the past year, dresses have not been selling, but she expects that to pick up this summer. Her stock also includes footwear, purses, and jewelry. If a piece of clothing doesn’t sell, she puts it on the dollar rack. The only items she buys new to sell in her store are a body butter and sugar scrub from Sea Street Soap Works in Belleville, Il. and homemade masks from a woman who makes them with her grandmother. She says, “Everything else walks in through the front door.”
This year, Tina has noticed more Washington University and Saint Louis University students coming to sell and buy, turning the store into a “drive to” destination. She says of one college student, “This girl made $480 dollars [selling] lululemon. She went to all of her friends and they all started coming in.”
Tina usually buys about 10 percent of what a seller brings in, and she offers 35 percent cash or 50 percent in-store credit. For the items she doesn’t purchase, she recommends donating to places like the Queen of Peace Center, The Women’s Safe House, or Helping Hand-Me-Downs, “where it goes on the back of a woman to empower another woman.”
Tina thinks people today lead cluttered lives that could be simplified by passing on unworn clothing and accessories. She suggests, “Buy your underwear new, but everything else can be resale.”
In Nov. 2020, Tina’s physician told her about a two-year COVID-19 vaccine trial at Saint Louis University. “They were taking 40,000 volunteers worldwide,” she says, “with just over a hundred volunteers from St. Louis.”
Tina understood the seriousness of the pandemic from talking with Sorrell, now a nurse working with COVID-19 patients, and wanted to help. Tina went to the Center for Vaccine Development in the Edward A. Doisy Research Center, underwent a comprehensive physical, and was accepted.
Tina says the consent process for the blinded study, in which participants are not told whether they are receiving the vaccine or a placebo, was very thorough. She felt confident that she had received the vaccine because she felt sick for a short time afterward.
After enrollment, she was sent home with COVID tests and a pulse oximeter to test blood-oxygen levels. If she tested positive during her time in the study, the study team would have her quarantine and provide a nurse to come to her house every day. Tina checks in twice a week using a phone app to let them know how she’s feeling. Once a month, she goes to the Center to have her blood drawn.
When the vaccination rollout started, Tina heard comments like, “I’m not going to get it” and “They don’t know. They rushed this through.” Now, she says, “I haven’t seen anyone who says they are not going to get it.” When she told friends about the vaccine trial, at least ten of them screened for eligibility but did not qualify.
The study team has gotten to know Layla from Tina’s monthly visits. They informed Tina about a six-month COVID-19 study Layla could participate in, but her daughter did not want to get her blood drawn monthly. Tina didn’t want Layla to be that uncomfortable without that certainty of knowing that her daughter had received the vaccine.
In March, Tina was informed by the vaccine clinical trial study team she had been given the placebo. “I almost fell out of my chair,” she exclaims. “I was so sure that I had received the actual vaccine that the doctor went back and checked it again.” The study then gave her the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Tina is committed to staying active in the clinical trial until November 2022. She had never volunteered for a research study before but with the pandemic, “I just wanted to do something to help,” she says.