Mrs. B’s Z-Place has been a mainstay on Third Street, the main street in downtown San Juan Bautista for almost 20 years. The eclectic boutique, full of vintage-inspired fashions, accessories and collectibles and inspired by the glamor of by-gone eras, has been a draw for tourists and regulars, alike. The boutique is owned and operated by Patricia Bains.
With an appointment to meet Bains for this story, I entered the shop and saw a little dog on a leash behind the counter. After our introductory hello, she explained that the dog wasn’t hers but was one of the neighbor’s—that the dog was accustomed to stopping by for a daily belly rub. A few minutes later, the dog’s owner retrieved the pup, continuing on her way home.
Exuding warmth and charisma, I was immediately drawn to Patricia, who was impeccably dressed in a skirt and blouse and sporting 4-inch high heels.
After years of owning and operating a trucking business and a real-estate career in the North Bay Area, Patricia and her husband decided to de-stress their life by moving to San Juan Bautista. Upon viewing ranch property, roamed by Highland cattle, she remembers saying “All I could see was God!” and knew that the couple had found their new home.
“This area has been a blessing,” she says. “Soon after moving here, I came down with a serious illness that required a brief hospital stay. I hardly knew anyone here, yet people kept sending food and cards.”
Bains explained her love for fashion started as a young girl when her mother, a talented seamstress, “made everything but my shoes.” Her outfits were always beautifully tailored and fashionable in the 1940s and 1950s styles of the time. She learned to appreciate quality workmanship and fine fabrics. “When purchasing a new clothing line, I’m a hands-on buyer- feeling the fabric and checking seams and hemlines for quality.”
With Patricia’s fashion style and looking for a new business she decided to open a boutique in her new community—selling new clothing with a vintage twist.
With three floors to shop, the main floor offers designer jewelry, shoes, sunglasses and other collectibles. All kinds of electronics include a lipstick stun gun and pepper spray encased in a crystal perfume atomizer.
Downstairs offers educational toys that inspire imagination for children.
Upstairs is a collection of vintage-inspired clothing for men, women and children. Sizes start at extra small and go up to “women of substance” sizes of 26. “We’re all flowers in God’s garden—we just need to kick a little dirt off so we can bloom. Women are here to beautify the world—not just on the outside, but also from the inside.”
Patricia and her husband have always been involved in their community, especially when it comes to children. Along with friends, they formed Community Fellowship Center, a non-profit organization that provides for scholarships, computers and mentoring programs for at-risk children. “We work with the Probation departments of Hollister and San Juan Bautista to help get kids out of the system.”
Fundraisers, such as last summer’s big top circus, provide back-to-school supplies, weekly groceries for over twenty families, and help families in need during Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Mayor Christopher Martorana says “Mrs. B’s has consistently been a leader in advocating for the downtown businesses. They make a terrific effort to decorate the shop for every holiday. Their contributions to the City make them a standout.”
Asked for the secret of her success, she laughed and said, “I’m stubborn. I believe that if God gives me a purpose, He will fulfill it.” Married to her “best friend for over 50 years,” she says she owes much to her husband and family, her biggest supporters.
All kinds of hats, ranging from fedoras to fascinators, cloche and berets, dot the upper shelves. Inquiring about them, Bains suggested I would look good in a burgundy colored wool cloche. “There,” she murmured after I had tried it on, “I knew you were a cloche girl. You just need a little ‘hat-itude.’ Hair is our glory, our hat is our crown and we’re all royalty. Don’t feel timid about wearing your hat—wear it with ‘hat-itude.” And so, with a new hat in hand, I became a Mrs. Be-liever and a great fan of this inspirational woman and her boutique.