Why Retail Therapy Is Good for Small Biz

It’s possible that too much lip service is paid to the “Lipstick Index” in a slow economy. Sometimes a girl just wants a new lipstick. But Leonard Lauder was on to something there: items such as cosmetics, ties, shoes, and jewelry can do a lot for a person’s mood when retail therapy has to be curbed a bit.

A local example is Chicago’s AKIRA, which opened in 2002 as a single women's clothing store in Wicker Park. Owned by Erikka Wang, Jon Cotay, and Eric Hsueh, AKIRA has expanded to over 10 stores in Chicago.

Nationwide chain Claire’s Boutique got its start in the '60s on the premise “when times were tough and people had little to spend, women and young ladies could purchase a few trinkets and accessories to make an old outfit seem brand new."

If you think you’ve got the fashion sense, and can obtain the capital to get started, go for it.

But consider the two most important factors: location and demographics.

Is your business located in a busy area, but not oversaturated?

What’s the average age and buying power?

Look for wholesale accessories or buy in bulk to receive discounts. If you have the budget, travel to find them. Wang says she is often warned by Hsueh and Cotay not to return from travels unless she has something new.

Be friendly and welcoming to your customers.

Mainly, bring items to your store that others don’t carry. Most people want to be different – yet fit in. In other words, think like a teenager.

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