Story by Meagan Flynn
Photo by Carter Oswood
Former Francy Pants owner, Emily Zach, just finished the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon in San Francisco earlier this month. The race starts with a 1.5-mile swim from Alcatraz Island in the San Francisco Bay, continues with an 18-mile bike ride out onto the Great Highway, through Golden Gate Park, then finishes with an 8-mile run through the Golden Gate Recreational Area.
Training for something like this meant that Zach had to give something up. She was a lawyer, a thrifty shop owner and, though she admits she isn’t the greatest, a triathlete, too.
So Zach gave up owning Francy Pants. It closed in December — open all but nine months. The art supplies store next door expanded its space to fill the empty slot.
“It was a fun adventure,” Zach said, “but I didn’t like being tied to my (shop).”
Zach had other responsibilities as an attorney that needed more attention. She hired a girl part-time to help her at Francy Pants, but when she moved to pursue a career, Zach was conflicted. She didn’t know what to do with Francy Pants. The Drake University community was sad to see the shop go, but now that Zach has left, her life is more organized and less hectic.
“I definitely feel like I can put more thought into (my job) and do my job better,” she said. “I have more emotional energy to spend on myself and my real job.”
There was always something that had to be done at Francy Pants. Had to pay taxes. Had to pay back loans. Had to do this, had to do that. It tired her.
She originally opened the shop because it seemed to merge two of her interests: thrifting, she almost always goes to second-hand stores, she said, and her college business degree. Her law school degree from the University of Iowa granted her the legal background necessary for navigating any complex issues that could have arose. And as a shop owner, she liked the opportunity to meet new faces.
“I’m an atypical attorney,” Zach said. “I’m an outgoing people-person. I’m not a study-in-my-office-all-day person.”
Drake Relays was the shop’s most vibrant time. People from all over visited Zach’s store, and throughout the nine months, she got to know many students.
She learned a lot as Francy Pants’ owner, such as how to work with the city for a permit. But being a shop owner isn’t a way of life like being a triathlete is. And being a shop owner wasn’t Zach’s real job like being a lawyer is. She couldn’t stay.
“I met so many interesting people. The whole thing was awesome,” she said. “But it’s a relief that I don’t have (Francy Pants) anymore … It was a good experience. I don’t have any regrets on doing it at all.”