Melissa Mallone opened her trend boutique, “Plain and Fancy,” in March of 2020.
Sure, actually, March 2020, the start of the pandemic, when nobody had even conceived of the phrase “bathroom paper scarcity.”
Her retailer survived the pandemic, and in a 12 months made well-known for Zoom conferences that includes pressed blouses and assertion earrings paired with pajama bottoms, Mallone mentioned her prospects haven’t actually been eager about yoga pants and sweatshirts.
So, if that’s the case, what are boutiques doing in a pandemic?
“[People] don’t need to put on loungewear anymore,” she mentioned. “They need to be dressed up.”
She even tried promoting loungewear for a time and located herself feeling uninspired.
“So I type of scaled again, as a result of I really feel like each time I went on-line, that is all I noticed and I used to be sick of it, and it wasn’t thrilling me, so I didn’t purchase it [for the store].”
Mallone began promoting in garments in 2012 on Fb Market. She was simply in search of a method to eliminate a few of her outdated stuff to make room for the brand new. When she began going full drive with Plain and Fancy final 12 months, she discovered individuals have been in search of a boutique expertise extra in the course of the pandemic than ever earlier than.
She provides free supply the place she drops items off personally to every buyer. She has a personalised retailer arrange in her home for individualized purchasing periods, with racks of garments and a rest room arrange as a dressing room if prospects need to strive something on.
“I feel with that personalization and customer support that they aren’t getting now that all the things is on-line purchasing, it’s only a completely different really feel and a unique vibe. The customer support side is all the things proper now,” she mentioned.
Earlier than the pandemic, Mallone arrange pop-up outlets wherever she was invited, even sometimes pizza eating places, the place she began to make relationships with prospects.
“Individuals love boutique purchasing,” she mentioned. “Individuals love novelty, they love seeing stuff that they’re not going to see after they go into TJ Maxx and Marshall’s. I give that to them and so they completely like it,” she mentioned.
“I really feel like I’m bringing one thing to my neighborhood that isn’t already there.”
In Bridgeport, Amanda Kelley and Virginia Semeghini run Witch Bitch Thrift, a classic and thrift boutique specializing in distinctive, colourful items.
The boutique began in September as a web-based retailer working out of Semeghini’s lounge, however it grew shortly, and so they realized they wanted to maneuver right into a bodily retailer area.
“That’s once we realized we may provide that added expertise of getting individuals come and chat and make appointments, however preserve it secure as a result of it’s nonetheless a pandemic,” Semeghini mentioned.
Presently, the shop operates on-line, on Instagram and by appointment on the brick-and-mortar location, the place Kelley and Semeghini personally curate an expertise for patrons.
“Individuals won’t need to exit and store like a traditional purchasing expertise, going to a retailer and being with a bunch of individuals. And I feel that having that [appointment] service ensures they will have the shop to themselves and store safely and never really feel crowded,” Semeghini mentioned.
They agree with Mallone that prospects haven’t been coming to them in search of any type of loungewear. Their shoppers are in search of an outlet to really feel like themselves once more, in response to Kelley.
They’re attempting to assist individuals discover their very own type and lose any preconceived notions about what trend ought to be.
“We get lots of people who’re saying to us ‘I’m in search of clothes to assist me really feel higher about myself once more,’ or to ‘assist me really feel like myself once more in a time once I simply haven’t,” Kelley mentioned.
The shop sells clothes for each physique kind, and there’s an enormous concentrate on creating accessibility and neighborhood for everybody. Kelley and Semighini create thriller bundles for shoppers based mostly on their pursuits and elegance. There’s additionally a request type on their web site the place prospects can request particular gadgets. So, if somebody’s in want of a floral skirt in a sure measurement, Kelley and Semighini can exit and attempt to discover it.
“We’ve actually tried to concentrate on the native factor. We form really feel like new children on the block, although we’ve lived right here a very long time,” Semighini mentioned.
“I feel that it is a complete new recreation for us, attempting to do lots of outreach with the neighborhood. We actually need to make this an area that’s secure and good and a spot the place individuals need to come and hang around.”
email@example.com, @bysarajane on Twitter