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Groove: Westport, Connecticut

Meet Groove: a one-stop shop of apparel and gifts for teens, kids and even babies.

Entrepreneur and mom-of-three, Corri Neckritz had a good idea, so she took it all the way to the bank—literally. Meet Groove: a one-stop shop of apparel and gifts for teens, kids and even babies. The store was brought to life after Neckritz represented several children’s brands out of her home and through road shows starting in 2007. She eventually outgrew the space and opened her first storefront in 2012.  Last fall, she moved to her current Westport flagship store in a vacant bank. The 3,400-square-foot space is complete with the old bank’s vault that Neckritz has turned into a sweets room with candy “by the pound” and candy-themed gifts. The steel doors and frames all remain original to the building with colorful décor galore. After such success, Neckritz launched a second location this month in New Canaan, Conn. “The biggest challenge for me right now is opening our new store in New Canaan while servicing my existing customers in our flagship Westport store,” says Neckritz. “It’s been a busy six months to say the least!”       

What sets your store apart from the competition?

My customer service. I go the extra mile as a personal shopper to help my customer find the perfect outfit or gift. I get daily calls from customers asking me to put aside a particular item of clothing or to pick out a birthday gift. Then, I’ll make sure to have it packaged and ready to go when they come in the store. We also specialize in customized party favors and special camp orders.

What were your bestselling brands or styles of 2016?

Our bestselling brands include Splendid for baby, Imoga and T2 Love for girls and DL1961 and Johnnie-O for boys. In terms of trends, novelty does really well—especially emojis.

Any surprises in 2016?

We were surprised by the sales of PopSockets, Grab & Go Pony Tubes and Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty—we can’t keep them in stock!

What is your main goal for 2017?

Staying organized between my two stores; my inventory changes fast so I’ll need to stay on top of what is stocked in both stores.

What is important to keep in mind during the back-to-school buy?

I want Groove to be a one-stop shop for everything back-to-school.  We will have everything from unique backpacks, pencil cases, lunch and snack bags to that perfect first day of school outfit.  Groove will be fully stocked on all the basics (jeans, leggings, tops).  I like to keep in mind that the weather is still warm in our area around Labor Day so while customers are ready to buy a new outfit, they may not be ready for sweater weather.

What do you foresee as trendy for back-to-school in Fall ’17?

I’ve seen a lot of metallics and embroidery.  I will offer this a bit to be on trend but not in an overkill type of way.

What’s the No. 1 back-to-school item a retailer should carry?

Backpacks.  Most children really want that special “new” bag for back-to-school.

Any tips on merchandising back-to-school items?

Outfits. Utilize mannequins so people can see the look.  I put it all together so people don’t need to think about it.

What is your social media strategy?

I use social media to showcase new arrivals and trends. I also love to post pictures from my happy customers—they love sending me pictures from vacations or a fun outfit for a regular school day.

How do you compete with the growing online market?

I have a niche where I sell on-trend clothing and unique gifts equally. I provide gift-wrapping and excellent customer service which resonates with my customers and keeps them shopping on a regular basis.

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