The ice is melting, now long gone, in fact, in some parts of the Metroplex, but serious damage from the so-called icepocalypse may yet be sustained by local small businesses. Coupled with fewer seasonal shopping days in 2013, recent weather-related closures and delays have created a pre-Christmas crisis for some independent Dallas boutiques. The fix won’t be as simple as a call to a handyman, but area shoppers can help.
“The days between Thanksgiving and Christmas account for 18% of our annual sales, so it is a critical time,” says Carley Seale, owner of Henderson Avenue mainstay, The Gypsy Wagon (pictured above). “This year, Thanksgiving being six days later than last year adds a bit of pressure. Take away three ice days, and it really feels crunched.”
Along with Ms. Seale, DFW Style Daily reached out to several local boutique owners to assess this situation. Lucy Huang, owner of Accents (pictured below), with locations in both Dallas and Southlake, reports a similar bottom line impact.
“The weather this past weekend caused us to reduce store hours at both locations, and even remain closed in one store last Friday [December 6],” recalls Huang. “Even during open hours, shoppers were scarce due to the extreme cold and general inaccessibility caused by the ice. We are definitely far behind in reaching an acceptable level of sales this month, and we are very concerned that we may be unable to make up for it.”
Similar to The Gypsy Wagon, Accents’ holiday season revenue traditionally accounts for some 15% of annual sales. With only two weekends remaining until Christmas, time is running short to reach crucial goals.
“A three day shut down in the height of gift season absolutely affects the top line, middle line, and bottom line,” Seale expands. “Inventory is in already in place. Holiday staffing is already scheduled.”
So, how can Dallas shoppers help heat things up for our local boutiques? By shopping, of course, and many stores are offering discounts to sweeten the deal in these important final pre-Christmas days.
Speaking of social media, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can give a boost, as well. Increased product posts during the storm allowed The Gypsy Wagon to stay in touch with homebound shoppers, stimulating sales after the thaw. Moving forward, the immediate contact offered by the popular platforms allows owners to make swift decisions as far as sales, events, and extended hours, to generate buzz. We recommend following favorite shopping spots on social media to keep up to date.
Ultimately, however, the decision to shop small and local will make the biggest impact of all. Of course, that’s not always easy, with national chains’ prices plummeting across the board and all budgets feeling pinched.
Ms Huang observes, “Consumers have been conditioned to shockingly wallet-friendly sales by the fiercely competitive national retailers. Their expectations, at times, leave us independently operated boutiques with more limited resources.”
Lindsey Harrison, owner of Krimson & Klover, seconds the point. “I feel like people are really looking for the big discounts from the big stores and that is not how my store works,” she says. “My store is inexpensive all year round.”
From a friendly smile and a mug of cider, to fewer lines and hassles, though, the boutique experience beats the big box this time of year, hands down. In closing, Lucy Huang reminds us all, “Boutiques offer such a better holiday shopping experience. Customers are treated to warm and personalized service, and offerings are specially edited to the needs of local women. And, what a good feeling it is to know that you are directly supporting the local economy and local families by shopping at boutiques.”
Images, credit The Gypsy Wagon and Accents via Facebook.com.