East of Ohio’s capital, Columbus, is the Village of New Albany. It’s a small, upscale community of 7,238 people. The village combines suburban charm with a “downtown” feel, complete with its own symphony orchestra. The Village Square is a destination shopping area with a library, restaurants, offices and shops. Most of these shops are single-owner small businesses.
Located there is Katharine Elliot’s Tailfeathers Boutique, a women’s apparel and accessories shop, which opened in 2006. Her 2010 sales are up by about 20 percent from last year, which Elliot attributes to moving to her new location in July. The old space, with limited parking, was away from foot traffic.
Elliot doesn’t feel she’s competing with large retailers for holiday and “Black Friday” sales. “I buy no more than six of an item and focus on my customer without having to meet the needs of disparate mall-shoppers,” Elliot offers. Restaurant-goers and parents waiting for kids at the library bring her repeat customers, allowing her to build relationships. Cheryl Cooper’s home décor and antique shop, Three French Hens shares space with Elliot, making a desirable product mix.
Hayley Gallery, Hayley Savage’s art gallery is away from the square on a side street. Savage agrees with Elliot’s focus on her specific customer niche, “I’ll do whatever it takes to make a client happy.” She is not after the big-box store customer, “I sell a ‘want,’ not a ‘need’.” But Savage is savvy to offer a wide range of price points. 2010’s sales haven’t been good, but the last couple months have made her “cautiously optimistic” this holiday season. Knowing location is a factor, in 2011 Savage is opening a restaurant combined with her gallery in a better spot. Savage says, “My restaurateur partner offered a compelling argument to move: the combination of art and food is appealing.”
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