Lisa Thompson-Stubblefield, 32, was preparing for a town event when she left the Tiny Fashion House Boutique in a roped-off section of the Battlefield Mall’s parking lot in Springfield last weekend.
“I grew up shopping at this mall and was excited for the opportunity,” she wrote on Facebook of her chance to take part in this year’s Food Truck Fest. "We parked the tiny house Friday afternoon in a coned off area that a representative at the mall lead us to and had designated for the event.”
But when Thompson-Stubblefield returned to the spot the next day at about 8:30 a.m., the 13-foot tiny house that serves as an outpost of her brick-and-mortar store was gone.
“No one knew where it was. Mall security had not noticed it missing for close to 11 hours,” she wrote.
Thompson-Stubblefield opened Front Porch Boutique five years ago in Rolla, Mo., and about a year ago, added the tiny house to her business to be better equipped for private and pop-up parties.
About $10,000 worth of merchandise was inside the portable business — dubbed “Esther” — which became an oft-requested facet of any on-the-go appointment Thompson-Stubblefield made.
"I have all these events scheduled, even into the fall, and I'm there thinking 'how am I going to do them without her?'" she told InsideEdition.com. "I just couldn't believe it could be gone."
Though it has no bathroom or kitchen and could not be used as an actual home, the quaint addition came with all the charms of the store, she said.
“Yes, it really is a tiny house with a tiny Front Porch and a selection of all the goodies — apparel & home decor — that you love from Front Porch!” she wrote on the store’s website.
Facing the heartbroken notion that the tiny house is lost forever, Thompson-Stubblefield took to social media to alert customers and residents of the shocking theft.
Her post was shared more than 5,000 times, and it wasn’t long before someone commented that they had spotted the home parked outside a residence in her Pittsburg, Kan., neighborhood, about 100 miles away.
"None of this would have happened, especially this quickly, if I hadn't decided to get the word out on social media. They were so helpful," Thompson-Stubblefield said of the internet sleuths who helped track down Esther. "I am so grateful, I am so thankful and I could not believe the response. I could never have guessed it."
Pittsburg police found the house there the next day.
“Guess what y'all?? All the way from Crawford County, Kansas to Crawford County, Missouri, she's back!” Thompson-Stubblefield shared on Tuesday. “She feels slightly violated and has some minor issues (signs were torn off, jacks are broke, etc. etc.) but we couldn't be happier to have the ONE & ONLY Esther home!!!”
Thompson-Stubblefield does not yet know how much, if any, of her merchandise was taken, as the contents of the tiny house are a mess, she said, but Esther will be back up and running in no time.
"She actually has an event in the first weekend of August in St. Louis," Thompson-Stubblefield said. "Hopefully by then, we'll have some new signage."
No arrests have been made, but both the Springfield and Pittsburg police departments are investigating the theft.