Feb 7, 2007
Welcome to my series of Shop Talk - a series of postings for those of you who wish to open a boutique some day, or perhaps are newly opened. While I don't profess to be a "professional" on the business of running a shop, but I am more than happy to pass along lessons learned and my observations.
One thing I learned is that every unique boutique has a "thing." What is a "thing"? Well, we all have a personal thing....some we are aware of and some are just placed upon us without our permission.
A few examples: Have you ever been asked to an event (a Star Trek convention, a monster car show, hunting wild boar) and you politely refuse saying, "sorry, but that is just not my thing"? We all have a thing. Eating raw oysters is just not my "thing." But everyone who knows me well knows that staying up late into the wee hours (usually working) is my "thing." But sometimes, we are given a "thing" by others. A few weeks ago I told a friend that I was thinking about growing out my hair. She exclaimed: "You can't! Short, blonde hair is your thing." I didn't know my short hair was my thing. But apparently she, along with some others, have decided it so. And so, my hair remains short (for now) because it is now my "thing."
So what about your store? Do you have a thing? While we store owners usually have a theme, or a concept, or "look," do we have a "thing"? Sometimes our thing is designed, but most of the time it is defined by our customers. I remember my store's first "thing." Several years ago, a customer walked in and told me she went to a flea-market and she excitedly described a piece of furniture that she just knew I would love - because, you know, it was my "thing."
Now my store has a tight color palette. That is on purpose. It has only distressed furniture. That is also on purpose. It has a European feel. Again, on purpose. But, over time, using old books and old paper in odd ways became my "thing." And mixing several fabrics in my bedding and furniture designs became my "thing." I didn't do those things on purpose, but my customers decided for me that old paper and mixed fabrics were my "thing."
And that is a good thing! Why?
Because that means your customer is paying attention. Your customer notices your habits, talents, your attention to detail (or not). And if your customer pays that much attention, then you must be doing something right. So listen to your customers and you will get a wealth of insight. So all the more reason to really think about what your store is really about. Of course, selling your goods is why you are open in the first place. But what else is your store about? What message do you want to send out into your community? What do you want your customer to feel, think, or say about your store when he/she leaves it? If your customer could use only one sentence to describe your store to her friend who has never been in it, how would she describe it?
How would you like your customers to describe your store is even more important.
So to all you store owner wannabe's....take some time and really think about your store and its message. Think about some of the stores you have visited and how you felt when you left that store. Think of the ones in which you were so excited about you had to call up a friend and tell her about it! What did you say? What did you feel? Why? Most likely, the store had a "thing" but you, being a new customer, haven't discovered it yet, but you definitely felt it.
Now that is something to think about!
from my house to your house,