New Dowagiac store feels embraced by community

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, January 13, 2021

DOWAGIAC — Business has been good to Elizabeth Cuadros.

Cuadros, owner of Diva’s Fashion & More, 56044 M-51 S., has been in business for roughly four months and said business has been steady. The store offers customers an array of items, including women’s clothing, shoes, piñatas and more.

“I’m slowly bringing things in,” she said. “We have men’s, women’s and kids’ clothing as well as piñatas and candy. We’re basically a party store with clothing.”

A South Haven resident, Cuadros had been looking to start her own business after working in industries such as landscaping, snow removal and glass production for years. When the location at 56044 M-51 S. was made available, she pursued it. After renting the space in the summer, Cuadros said it took roughly three months to move products in and set up shop.

“I always wanted to start a small business,” she said. “I thought it was time. Rent is a lot cheaper here. I saw this location as my opportunity. You have to start somewhere. When a building is in good shape, it is not hard to set things up. It went pretty smoothly.”

Cuadros believes her diverse array of products sets her store apart from competitors.

“I haven’t seen any stores around here offering some of the things that we have,” she said. “You don’t see many places here with piñatas and Mexican candy. We’re not just getting Hispanic people, either. I’m really happy here. This is a great town and our location is great.”

The ongoing pandemic has hindered businesses across the community, but Cuadros said the store’s success during this time has exceeded her expectations.

“It has been better than I thought,” she said. “For everything that’s going on, it’s been great. I was nervous about this at the beginning. I decided to take a chance, and so far, it has been wonderful.”

Diva’s Fashion & More serves the Dowagiac community, but customers from Michiana and beyond have stopped by the store to scope out items.

“I had a couple customers from Fennville,” she said. “I’ve had people from Niles and a lady from South Bend. I was shocked by the places some of these customers are coming from.”

While opening her business during unprecedented times was stressful, Cuadros feels embraced by the community and is optimistic about what the new year will bring.

“I am expecting the business to grow,” she said. “I want to make this bigger. By this summer, we want to be able to sell food and create more jobs for people.”