The Freakin' Word: Spotlight on Genius in Action

The Freakin’ Word's Lori Gertz
Lynne Jankovec, owner of Olivias Past, www.located in Long Grove IL

FG: What is the secret to your sauce Lynne? 17+ years in a historic town that is off the beaten path with minimal shopping hours, and a shrinking retail base? How do you do it?

LJ: My store has a cozy feeling and is merchandised to make the shopping experience both relaxing and exciting at the same time. Many people have described it as a “treasure hunt” through the small space that is packed with interesting clothing, jewelry, art and gifts. My customers are loyal and come to shop frequently because the size of the shop enables me to turn over the merchandise and feature new lines regularly. The secret to my sauce is a combination of people who enjoy shopping the quaint shops and the historic ambience of Long Grove plus those who know I have my finger on the pulse of what’s hot and what’s stylin’ for my demographic market.

FG: You are a rock solid buyer and have a real nose for clothing trends, how did you define your market? Did your merchandise self define or did you decide who you would buy for?

LJ: I buy from my heart using instinct. I love creating a versatile merchandise base of fun and interesting options for non-cookie cutter shoppers. My demographic is wide, so I have to be cautious to vary the merchandise for an array of shoppers.

FG: What have been the greatest customer acquisition methods you have used to build your loyal base of customers?

LJ: Word of Mouth! Yep, word of mouth and repeat business from my loyal customers is the biggest part of my success.

FG: What would you say is your greatest point of difference?

LJ: I’d like to think it’s my merchandise mix and my bubbly personality that differentiates me from other small boutiques. There is definitely a cache to my location in a tourist driven town though.

FG: Your store’s eclectic interior, like the cottagy exterior, is so unusual. What part of the customer’s experience in your store is sensory and what part is driven by a clothes shopping expedition?

LJ: I hear a lot of comments all the time about how much people love the “feel” of the store. I use a particular air essence and it has its very own sensory trademark, but honestly, it’s hard to say what “makes” any shopping experience…it’s a very personal thing.

FG: Tell me about what the general sense of business owners in Long Grove is as it relates to weathering the downturn in the economy.

LJ: As it relates to the national average, the empty storefront rate is below the average. Meaning, Long Grove is doing better than the average downtown shopping areas around the country. Of course, there’s a lot more creativity in marketing the town through the merchants association, of which I am a part. It’s a great group of committed business owners dedicating themselves to keeping the spirit of this historic place alive.

FG: Given that Long Grove has gone to event marketing, do you find yourself creating marketing tactics in line with those events, or are yours rather, in spite, of the events. Some events would include the annual Long Grove Strawberry Festival, Apple Festival, Chocolate Festival, etc.

LJ: The creative events sponsored by the town of Long Grove are great for driving traffic but we also plan many of our own events that we think appeal to our customers. Trunk shows of up and coming jewelry artists, fashion shows, private parties, have all helped us to create traffic for ourselves.

FG: What is the best tactic for getting your existing customers to visit?

LJ: Personal relationships are key. When I get a new item in, I CALL, yes, the old fashioned way of reaching out, I pick up the phone and call my customers to tell them when something arrives that I know they will love. I enjoy the direct contact with customers and am utilizing email to reach them with news of new and interesting items, promotions in the store, etc.

FG: Tell me, what would you advise if someone just starting out in the specialty women’s clothing business came to you and asked for advice?

LJ: Retail, especially women’s clothing, is a very difficult business to break into. It is most important to set your goals, be aware of your market, monitor expenses, and most importantly, follow your instincts. This is not a business whose success can be defined by a spreadsheet. It is one of passion, determination, and a LOT OF LUCK!


Post a Comment