Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fashion Boutiques and Independent Shops Thrive in North Bucktown

(note: cut and pasted, sorry for all the ">" marks.) 

For immediate release
October 30, 2009

Fashion Boutiques and Independent Shops Thrive in North Bucktown

In the face of the withering economy and a lack of consumer
confidence, the small shopping village of North Bucktown boasts a
handful of successful independent shops who are enjoying increased
sales, record quarters, and a growing customer base. The smart,
strong, and savvy female entrepreneurs in this area represent a group
> of young and dynamic business leaders who have relied on their
> experience, intuition, and innovation to not only sidestep the
> recession, but to nurture their individual visions into thriving
> concepts that can withstand or even evade the volatility of general
> market fluctuations. Below is a sampling of four small retail
> businesses in North Bucktown who can boast that 2009 has been THEIR year.
> Longtime Bucktown shop owner, Julie Horowitz, says her almost nine-year-old
> gift shop, Virtu, has opened up a new channel to attract
> shoppers from a recession-proof market -- Bridal. By focusing on
> women who have a busy social calendar and are planning one of the most
> important days of their life, Ms. Horowitz has seen a significant
> sales increase in jewelry, hostess gifts, and thank you notes. She
> also has invested in high profile trunk shows, attracting enthusiastic
> collectors of specific accessory and artisan lines. "At our last trunk
> show people made very generous purchases, in some cases buying
> multiple objects," she reveals. Ms. Horowitz has also boosted her web
> presence to gain market share with out-of-town shoppers looking to
> purchase her artfully curated wares, and plans to imminently relaunch
> her website in time for holiday sales. Along with a consistent and
> personalized marketing program through emails to her top echelon of
> customers in tandem with biweekly e-newsletters, Ms. Horowitz has seen
> her sales raise by roughly 10% from 2008 to 2009.
> Rebecca Dohe, owner of the three-year-old Radiance Fine Jewelry,
> reveals that her well-placed internet ads, commitment to customer
> service, and unique collection of designers keeps her high-end jewelry
> shoppers coming back and generates positive word of mouth. "Most of
> my best customers are looking for different designs that their wife or
> girlfriend will not see on everyone else out there, and I strive to
> achieve that," she explains. In order to fully provide the highest
> level of customer service, she works personally with her customers,
> addressing goals, concerns, and problems with honest feedback and
> a trained eye on her products and craft. As a result of these
> strategies, Ms. Dohe has seen her sales rise over 8% from 2008,
> experiencing her best sales month during April of 2009, as well as
> enjoying her best quarter ever during second second quarter 2009, with
> March/April/May revenue doubling from last year's same time period.
> vive la femme's owner, Stephanie Sack, has seen her sales rise by 10%
> in 2009, emerging as the boutique's most successful year in its
> seven-year history. As the only independent boutique in Chicago
> offering the latest looks and trends exclusively in plus sizes, Ms.
> Sack has developed a devoted clientele of fashionable full-figured
> shoppers who look to her shop's options for work, weekends, and
> weddings. "In order to keep customers happy and outfitted, I realigned
> price points to reflect the current economy's limitations without
> sacrificing the fun and feminine style for which vive la femme is
> known," Ms. Sack explains. Clothing at vive la femme retails between
> $35 and $175, down from $65 to $575, and customers have responded
> positively to the new price points. Ms. Sack also sends a weekly
> email delineating the latest shipments and sales, and throws lavish
> events every few months to create a festive and fabulous atmosphere so
> integral to the vive la femme experience.
> Finally, Beth Brace at The Painted Lady recently moved into a larger
> space on the 2100 block of Damen, exponetially increasing the square
> footage to display her rambling collection of hand-painted antique
> furniture, as well as showcasing a matching range of bedding, wall
> art, accessories, linens, and lamps. "I keep a customer wish list in
> my pocket while hunting for fabulous wares at flea markets," Ms. Brace
> says. This delightfully intimate buying tactic results in a shop full
> of wonderful and whimical items with perfectly personal appeal to her
> loyal customer base who consistently rely on her for this
> specific aesthetic. Using a combination of reasonable prices,
> professional expertise, and an erring eye for design and decor, Ms.
> Brace enjoyed her most successful month ever in August of 2009 and has
> seen a 9% increase in sales from 2008 to 2009.
Julie Horowitz
2034 N. Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647

Rebecca C. Dohe
Radiance Fine Jewelry
2139 N. Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
Stephanie Sack
vive la femme
2048 N. Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647
Beth Brace
The Painted Lady
2128 N. Damen Ave
Chicago, IL 60647-4540

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