Meet the founder of the funky consignment store in Louisville
Photography by Eleanor Williamson
For Nancy Cooley, owning Found Underground, a funky consignment boutique in Louisville, is all about the people who walk through the door. “Community is my inspiration,” she says. “The clothes are cool—that’s what brings in traffic—but for me it’s the people, 100 percent.”
Like a bartender of the racks, Cooley is known for her listening, caring manner as much as her sartorial acumen. And giving is an integral part of her business model, whether she’s donating bags of clothes to flood victims or raising money for special-needs kids or offering prom dresses at a deep discount.
That said, her basement boutique is filled corner to corner with high-quality, hip clothing (including a killer collection of jeans) and head-to-toe accessories, from designer bags to perfectly weathered Frye boots. Fresh inventory arrives continually.
Cooley has a simple formula for curating her eclectic collection. “I know what I like, and I know what style is,” she says. “I have limited space, so I go through each piece very carefully. I love color and unique style. I keep an eye out for favorite brands, like Anthropologie and Free People. I don’t accept anything older than a few years, unless it’s legit vintage or retro.”
Asked how she came by her unique sense of style, Cooley credits her Boulder hippie-child roots. “I’ve never conformed,” she says. “I’m not that person. I went to an alternative high school back in the ’70s, before that was even a thing, and I’m grateful for it.” Her unique sensibility, combined with a retail stint at the iconic Ritz in Boulder, fueled the decision to open her own shop in 2006. She found a promising and affordable space in Louisville—and so the town she previously knew as “the place where my grandmother used to play pinochle” became home.
As Cooley’s business thrives, her relationships with locals continue to grow, as does her commitment to be around for them. “This is my spot,” she says. “This is my last job.
I want my shop to be a place I absolutely cherish. And I do.”