It’s important to continue the Shop Girl series, at least until a point is reached where the book can be closed and we feel ready to venture into other important topics (email me offline with your thoughts, please!). In the past, when it comes to owning a small business, we’ve discussed: How Do You Stay Alive? and What Can Shop Owners Do To Attract Loyal Customers?
Beverly Hills bridal + evening gown boutique, Monique Lhuillier Salon, incorporated Alena Hennessy’s Birds in Flight to create a beautiful window display at their 9609 Santa Monica Blvd, Beverly Hills, CA address. Would this window catch your eye?
So let’s chat a bit about store displays, signage, and how to create a sense of excitement on the street that will draw in foot traffic. Store Owners: Is it all about location, or do you snag and drag in your customers through email, word of mouth, signage posted around town? How much importance do you place on your window displays?
If you do not own a store, but love to shop indie… Shoppers: What counts when you’re out and pass a storefront? What lures you in? Any tips you can give that can help shop owners become more successful in attracting customers is always welcome.
Ideas: Host a workshop or a guest speaker, place plants in urn planters or flower boxes around the front door, lots of signs announcing a One Day Sale, signage showing that the store window was pulled together by a designer or art school that made local news, good music (I heard the Amelie soundtrack recently coming from a store and HAD to go inside)… Can anyone think of what attracts them?
(images from alena hennessy)
Do you Tupalo? You should. It’s a new social mapping network for indie culture, with a focus on mapping mom ‘n pop boutiques, indie book and record stores, hair salons, nightclubs, and cafes.
Users can search, add, rate, review, and tag location around various cities worldwide, including Berlin, San Francisco, Chicago, and more – with new locations being added daily. Tupalo is hoping you’ll spread the word about their community, so please visit them online and spread the word!
For the next few months, decor8 will feature a Shop Girl series, posts that randomly pop up from time to time about shop ownership – brick ‘n mortar and online stores – to gather the perspectives of both owner and customer alike. The goal is to collect ideas that will help small business owners stay afloat which will make our shop experience as customers, a richer, more interesting one that fills more than just our bags, but may even help us meet new people in our community, learn about interesting artists, and walk away feeling refreshed and inspired.
The response from Shop Owners How Do You Stay Alive?, blogged on March 13th, resulted in some informative comments that extend beyond the typical ‘great post!’ that you usually see on blogs. If you haven’t already, please read the comments, enlightening to say the least. Shannon, from the blog Make It, brought up an interesting point that I’d like to get your opinion on.
Shannon said, “I love hearing of small businesses that also hold art/craft exhibits. Doe and Rare Device are two stores that do this very well and not only do they get great publicity from it, they support small artisans and give people another reason to visit their shop, even if they don’t feel like shopping. Small businesses need to think of creative ways to get people into their stores (classes, book signings, cocktail hour). Here in Boston, Magpie just reopened in a larger storefront with a temporary art exhibit as well.”
So readers, shoppers, friends of independent boutiques… What do you think? How can shop owners attract a loyal following? If you owned a shop, what creative ideas would you use to attract customers? What would you like to gain from your shopping experience?
I’m passionate about shop ownership. Owning a small business with a constant stream of foot traffic, whether that be a restaurant, creative firm, or a retail storefront, is hard work. Freelancing from home in your jammies is one thing, but when you have a storefront, you have to be on your game from the moment you turn the key in the morning to the second you step foot into your home that night. It’s not all ice cream and cupcakes, unless of course, that’s what you happen to sell.
You may notice on decor8 that I often write about indie stores, many with mini tours of their space so you can see what they look like even though you may live thousands of miles away. I come from a family of business owners, right down to my parents, who once had two restaurants and a day spa. And although I’m charmed by the whole experience of small business ownership, especially a retail storefront, I know that reality is much different than the dream of being a shop girl. That’s why I write about these stores, to show my support and to hopefully stir a need in you to either shop small businesses more, or at least, refer your friends and support local stores when you can. I shop both large and small, but in the end, it’s the corner shop experience that I enjoy the most.
London and Paris are my favorite shopping destinations. As the British Pound grows stronger, London becomes less attractive from a shopping standpoint, but I still shop indie when I’m there for the sake of supporting shop owners and walking away with a bag of rare finds. A large part of the appeal of such cities is the local arts scene, and along with that, these privately owned boutiques give them their charm. Boutiques keep the tourists coming back for more. Why cities aren’t more supportive of independant retailers is beyond me. Replace them all with CVS and Dunkin’ Donuts, and let’s see how many tourists drop by in the years to come.
Unfortunately, high rents are driving so many indie stores out, only to be replaced by retail giants or expensive housing. Nowadays, a good shop is increasingly hard to find. Let’s face it, when your city becomes trendy, your section of town the ‘next big thing’, it’s as scary as it is exciting. Some people I know say that when the big developers start coming in, they know they’re screwed. Sounds a bit harsh, but that may be true. If you’re a shop owner just making the rent, and suddenly your lease isn’t renewed because the building is turning into condos, or it can be renewed for several hundred dollars more a month, your life can change overnight. When rent soars, your area becoming the next big thing suddenly lacks appeal. As the money moves in, creatives can feel a bit uninspired to do anything more than return to their 9-5 to sustain a ‘normal’ life, giving up shop ownership and their dreams. But this isn’t meant to depress you, so let’s look at the options. You don’t have to close up shop.
I ask you shop owners, is there a way to maintain an independent store amidst the clone wars? Let’s see what others are doing.
Storefronts alone are so expensive to rent that some stores have to double up with others to afford a single space. Tivoli Home in Brooklyn sells gorgeous Scandinavian wares both online and at the popular DUMBO General Store Cafe & Bar. This is how owner Kenneth, keeps his dream alive. And owner Holly Waterfield of Camp on Perry in the West Village shares space with real estate agent, Richard Florke of The Rural Connection. Where there’s a will, there’s a way…
Continue this series by clicking here or simply scroll to the next post: Frau Zimmer (Shop Owner: Collaborate)