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ABOUT US is ABOUT YOU

Because once you’ve walked in the door—physical or virtual—you’re part of the clan.

You might say it all started when Erin wanted to wear a skirt over her pants. She was five.

“In 1973, people didn’t do that,” says her mom and business partner, Sharon. “In North Dakota in the 50s and 60s, there were still dress codes at colleges and offices—if women wore pants for warmth, we changed once we arrived somewhere. So, when this little girl was standing there with her hands on her hips, I didn’t think we were having a fashion conversation.”

Those days are over. Now everything is a fashion conversation.

And since 2015, the creative duo behind Doc & Alice has captured a personal sense of South Dakota’s Black Hills—in the form of hand-selected clothing and accessories—and created an experience that lures even those who didn’t imagine they cared about fashion. I should know; I’m one of them.

 

The Shopping Experience

“We have clothes for all bodies and many tastes,” Sharon says. “We probably won’t have what ‘everyone else has,’ or what sales reps have told us is ‘selling great everywhere.’ Our clients don’t want us for that. Plus, people are not all shaped like runway models, and we have equally fun clothing for everyone.”

If you’re an experienced fashionista, then staff will leave you to your own devices—but if you need help building an outfit (not to be confused with a pick-up truck, also called an “outfit” in South Dakota), they’ll assist. They’ll start from the leggings up—“no bagging, no sagging—don’t you hate that?” Erin asks—or the tank top down. Or they can build an ensemble around a certain necklace. Wherever you’d like to start.

And nothing’s precious. Erin has been known to yank and stretch, to step back and say, “nope,” and take it away. Sharon is tireless in seeing possibilities—and honest about how things fit.

 

Our Company

For inspiration, the women named the store after Erin’s paternal grandparents—the beloved doctor who delivered Erin (baby #6,000) and Alice, an arts advocate—and then built a feeling, piece by piece. Since the feeling expresses both the women’s sense of place and their individuality, they’ve searched for the right words to describe it. Black Hills boho. Boho West. It’s rustic and trendy. They use the word “bling” in conversation. No matter what you call their style, though, or how fun the experience, Doc & Alice is serious business.

 

“Women have a special kind of dignity and strength, and their clothing should express who they are,” Erin says. “When you have clothes that express who you are, you feel empowered; your outside lines up with your inside.” She’s known this from at least age five, and her mom knew it long before that—dress codes or not. “From the get-go, my mom challenged the norms,” Erin says. “In fact, people are always saying that she doesn’t look like someone from North Dakota.”

 

“Whatever that means,” Sharon adds.

 

The women reflect on how Midwesterners are often underestimated by travelers from other locales—and therefore “bicoasters” are often surprised at the offerings in Doc & Alice. “People are always saying, ‘I’m home! This store is exactly what I’ve been looking for all my life!’” Erin says. “They confess that they assumed we were all Plain Janes, bland compared to wherever they live. It’s exciting to see visitors look at us with a connection, as interesting people with something to say.”

Our Vision

The sole mission of Doc & Alice: “We hope you’ll find yourself or recognize yourself.” If the tunic is too wild, or the hat has too much bling, maybe you can start with a dolman sleeve. Or a bit of fringe.

 

It worked for me. The first year they were open, I had to go to a big, fancy event in New York City—where I wanted to celebrate the West but not look like a cowpoke. I walked in and took a look around. Erin was wearing a pair of tiered pants that looked kind of like adorable curtains. “I won’t wear those,” I said, “but what do you suggest?” I handed her my dressiest pair of cowboy boots and off we went. Three years later, I’m writing their website.

 

PS: I think director Todd Douglas Miller’s film, Dinosaur 13, PROBABLY would have won the Emmy® Award for Outstanding Science and Technology Programming even without my cute outfit, but we’ll never know for sure. He made the documentary about Sue the T. rex, based on Rex Appeal, a book I co-authored with paleontologist Peter Larson. [From left: Matt Morton, music composer; Matt’s wife Jen Armbruster Morton; Pete Larson; Pete’s son, coworker, and film stand-in Tim Larson (kneeling); Tom Petersen, Director of Photography; Laura Kirby Miller, our director’s wife; Todd Douglas Miller, director; and me.]

Kristin Donnan