Article originally published in the Inside the City Magazine in May, 2012
Benita Kimball knows what it feels like to have the weight of the world on her shoulders. Kimball is the proprietor of At Last Bra & Lingerie, a Sacramento shop she runs with her mom, Connis, that specializes in undergarments for well-endowed women.
“My greatest joy is when I get that client, especially teenagers, who’ve just left the mainline stores and are feeling hateful of their own bodies,” Kimball says, standing amid an array of brightly colored bras and matching panties. “Then I watch the transformation in their self-esteem, their energy and their health by getting fitted correctly.”
Kimball knows the joy of a perfect fit first-hand.
“When I moved to Sacramento”—the Atlanta native followed her parents here upon their retirement—“I literally couldn’t find a bra (that fit). It was really frustrating and sad.”
Similarly frustrating was the Sacramento job market Kimball encountered when she first arrived. Despite holding a master’s degree in picture and sound editing, she couldn’t find gainful employment, which led her to consider a field with which she was none too familiar.
“The most I knew about retail was how to charge something,” Kimball says with a laugh. “When I decided to open this shop, I got a crash course in owning a business—when you open the doors, you just learn it.”
Kimball discovered she had a better brain for business than she’d expected. Almost seven years since its inception, At Last Bra & Lingerie is thriving, serving an ever-expanding clientele in its new Natomas location in the Truxel Station Shopping Center.
“They were demolishing the part of Town and Country Village where our shop was,” Kimball says, “so we decided to move to Natomas. It’s the perfect location—it’s closer to our regular customers and, because it’s close to two major freeways, it’s really easy to get to.”
Another unexpected aspect also sold Kimball on the new storefront.
“We have to make sure the men have something to do while their women are shopping,” Kimball says. “There’s a Mel’s Diner, Home Depot and Best Buy all nearby. We tell the women, ‘If you’re on your way to Arco Arena, come an hour early and shop, then you can go to the game.’ We’re learning how to cater to men!”
Watching Kimball in action, you wouldn’t know that she’s relatively new to the business. On the day I visit the shop, Kimball is busy putting in new orders for summer and fall with a traveling sales rep, picking merchandise like a pro.
“I’ve learned what sizes we do a lot of,” Kimball says, her pretty face scrutinizing a stack of lace-edged bras. “We specialize in DD and higher, all the way up to K. Certain sizes are more popular at certain times of year—we always sell Gs, but the Hs and Js kind of seesaw.”
Kimball has carved out such a successful niche that larger stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom and Victoria’s Secret recommend her to clients they can’t fit. She’s also the go-to bra guru for women who’ve gone through mastectomies for breast cancer.
“I was trained to fit bras by a mastectomy trainer, actually,” Kimball says. “There’s so much that goes into buying these kinds of bras— insurance makes it a nightmare—that our job is to make it easy for the customer to get what she needs.”
That goes for all women, regardless of their health issues, size or financial situation.
“During an economic downturn, people can look at a good-fitting bra as a luxury, not a necessity,” Kimball says. “And when times are tough, women often take care of themselves last. But a bra is as important to your wardrobe as shoes.”
“Feeling good in your body makes all the difference.”
Kimball flashes the strap of a bright pink bra that matches her fuchsia shirt.
“It all depends on what you’re wearing—the shape and color matter as much as the fit,” she says. “That’s why I want to branch out in other directions and start carrying clothes for busty women in addition to bras. Feeling good in your body makes all the difference.”
Find your perfect fit—and some cute panties to match—at Kimball’s At Last Bra & Lingerie at 2063 Arena Blvd., Suite 150 in the Truxel Station Shopping Center. For more information, call 480-9501 or go to atlastbras.com.