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- 2019 Earnie Awards
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A look at What’s Selling at Louisville, Colorado’s Pitter Patter.
With a background in TV news, Liz Connor’s keen understanding of demographics and market behavior was key to inspiring the next chapter of her career. When she moved back to her husband’s home state after giving birth to their first child in London, Connor noticed something missing from the quaint mining town of Louisville, CO. “There were so many new moms in the area but not many specialty places to shop without driving to Denver or Boulder,” Connor says, recalling kids’ boutiques back in London where moms could shop while enjoying the company of other local mothers.
Feeling inspired, Connor enrolled in night classes to sharpen her business skills before opening the doors to her own children’s boutique, Pitter Patter, in 2016. Connor established the 550-square-foot shop in a remodeled house on Main Street, quickly drawing patrons with attractive window displays and a warm interior. New moms and grandmothers enjoyed the well-curated selection of clothing, accessories and gifts from top brands like Angel Dear, Kickee Pants, Tea Collection and Baby Bling.
Connor’s No. 1 tip? Remember to look up from the number crunching and margins once in awhile. “Just listen to the customers and appreciate the relationships you make through good customer service,” she says, noting the human connection to be the most rewarding part of being in retail. “When I was working in news, it was all doom and gloom,” Connor says. “Now I deal with ‘goo-goo ga-ga’ and giggles every day—it’s refreshing to be reminded daily of the magic of childhood.” —Aleda Johnson
How’s business? While the number of stores that have gone out of business concerns me, we’re in high-gross mode here. In fact, we’ve doubled our traffic from last year. The key to keeping sales up has been figuring out pricing that accommodates different shoppers while still increasing margins. You can’t waste time on a brand that’s so cute but most of it ends up on the sale rack. The numbers lead us.
What is the sweet spot? For my specialty dresses, I stay between $60 and $80. In playwear, I can sell $40 dresses all day, but I have to keep boys’ between $29 and $35. For babies, it’s an emotional buy, so I might sell a $100 dress for baby’s first Easter or birthday. But I keep footies in the $30 to $40 range, always valuing quality so it’s not a one-time wear.
What are your best-selling brands? Our whole baby department! Specifically, Angel Dear and Kickee Pants are the top sellers in that category. For older children, it’s Egg by Susan Lazar, Hatley and I just started with Tea Collection for boys. I typically pull many European-inspired designs like Creamie and Lemon Loves Lime. Honestly, if you pick the right dress, you’re bound to sell out.
How about accessories? We love to highlight local vendors, which our customers really appreciate. I started stocking Baby Jackbyrd Homemade, who is run by a local mom. I noticed her felt flower bows on children at the playground and fell in love. I also stock Hello Hadley, which was picked up by Joanna Gaines, and it’s been fun to watch her grow into a national brand. Baby Bling, Little Zoe and American Jewel do well, too.
What do you look for in a brand? I will only work with brands that let me order in small batches. Some people forget to ask what a minimum order can be, which is an issue when I have no storage. I need brands that will let me stock three of their dresses or stagger deliveries every month. My stock is highly curated because I’m limited on space and don’t want my racks packed full. Leaving room allows customers to see your inventory better—it’s just more aesthetically pleasing.
What’s next on your agenda? We need to upgrade our baby gift registry. We’ve always offered one, but we’re not online so we’re in the process of revamping our website. We get too many requests from Facebook and Instagram, and it’s just not efficient to respond to each post. That’s a whole source of revenue we’re missing out on. That said, there’s a lot more paperwork and negotiating with brands when you go online. I’ve been trying to do my research, so we can make a smooth transition.
What kind of research have you done? I’m mostly talking to other shop owners to get advice on what they have done. I’m under no illusion that I know it all, and people love to talk about their business. I’m focusing on applying the same feeling of convenience, efficiency and ease customers can find in the store to the website with the same curated collection. We can present gift bundle ideas online, too.
What do you love most about your job? The relationship with my community. It’s amazing when you have a customer come back to you because they feel a special connection to your store. For example, one lady came in the day we opened and gave birth to her son that same day. That connection is automatic—it’s emotional and lasting. I thought I would be an anonymous business owner in the community, but turns out I’m a junkie on the connection to our customers. I live for it!