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Special Report: Boutique Business - FOX 14 TV Joplin and Pittsburg News Weather Sports |

Special Report: Boutique Business

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PART ONE

It's a typical Tuesday morning at Magpies Bakery, where Taylor and her mother are whipping up sweet treats for the week.

"My mom is definitely the pie maker, she does all the crust and we pitch in where we can. Charlie, my middle sister, is in charge of the cheesecakes and the cookies. I'm in charge of the French macarons and the cinnamon rolls, and it kind of all just brings together this beautiful display case on Friday's," explained Quezada, owner of Magpies.

Fridays, and Thursdays, are big days for this family bakery because those are the only days it's open, but Quezada explains that there's work going on behind the scenes all week long.

"Monday, we have what we prep on Monday, what we prep on Tuesday, Wednesday and into Thursday, when we open. So we just have a schedule built on what that looks like. You know, it's a process. I think everything in the baking is a process," Quezada said.

A process that's growing in popularity as more and more small businesses take on a non-traditional work week, explains Stu Dunlop, instructor of business and marketing.

"Every day is mundane if you're open 6 days a week, 7 days a week, whatever the case may be. But if there's special days that you know, it's like a farmer's market concept, I know on Tuesdays and Thursdays I can get fresh produce and so you put that on your calendar, that's when you're gonna do it. So if you can create that environment to where this is a special day, you know this store is gonna be open. I can get the products and services I want, it's a great business model because then you can cut down on your operating expenses. You only have to staff for a couple days a week and it really truly is an ingenious way to move forward as a small business," said Dunlop.

Kristen Sheafer, owner of Frosted Cakerie, specializes in custom cakes and is open only one day a week for what she refers to as "Walk-In Wednesdays."

"It does kinda have a little bit of exclusivity because if you miss it one week, then you might be more likely to set a reminder in you phone. I have lots of customers that have reminders that it's Wednesday and that they need to come in. We've got some really great loyal customers that have made our Wednesday successful," explained Sheafer.

Sheafer works on special orders all week long, and being open to the public on one day makes it easier to cut down on waste.

"Just talking to other people here locally, I know that they had issues bringing in only $40-50 dollars a day trying to sell stuff and because we want our quality to be good, we don't have time to keep stuff stocked every day and then have to throw it away and pay people to keep that up," said Sheafer.

For both of these businesses, social media plays a major role in connecting with customers.

"Just being able to contact us anywhere, anytime, from any device and being able to connect with our customers in that way, to meet their needs. The thought of just working around their world, I think is important," stated Quezada.

And whether it's frosted cakes or cute cookies, these businesswomen are enjoying the sweet taste of success as they continue to grow.

"It's awesome to see my mom and my sister and myself and our littles that can come up here and just grow into this. I think it's super awesome," said Quezada.

Frosted Cakerie recently purchased a new building as they expand their business. Their new location is 218 S. Main Street, but they still intend to be open to the public just one day a week.

PART TWO

Downtown Joplin has undergone some major changes over the last decade, changes that are attracting more competition for boutiques like Sophie.

"This area was not known for boutiques back then. I mean this was 11 years ago, so there wasn't all of this. Main Street had not been revitalized in any way, shape, or form back then," explained Ashley Wakefield, owner of Sophie Boutique.

Even so, Wakefield says she welcomes her new neighbors.

"Having all the different businesses downtown, it just kinda adds to that. To be able to get together, and do things together, and kind of that sense of community is what I like," said Wakefield.

According to Ibisworld.com, in the U.S., over the past five years, boutiques have declined in revenue, but increased in number which doesn't necessarily add up to success, explains MSSU business and marketing instructor Stu Dunlop.

"Many times the people that get into that have a real passion for a particular product or service, but they don't have a real good business background. The ones that are successful, that stay in business for quite some time, figure out exactly how to keep changing," Dunlop stated.

Change is something Wakefield has embraced, but she explains that technology has pro's and con's.

"Online helps us tremendously as far as social media and getting our name out there and all that kinda stuff, but it also hurts us in some ways too because it's hard to compete with the Amazon's of the world," Wakefield admitted.

Just a few doors down from Sophie, is Branden Clark, owner of Blue Moon, who says that she's had to make similar changes over the years to keep up with the growing competition both online and off, but she welcomes the challenge. 

"To me, the more boutiques that are around and in this downtown area, I'm thrilled because it brings people down here for an afternoon, for a destination, a girl's day. There's a lot for them to walk around and do. We just have to keep on our toes to keep up with competition and be the best that we can be," said Clark.

Experts say that competition is actually a vital part of a healthy local economy.

"Not everyone is doing the same thing, and it really gives the consumer options. I think we're seeing a trend. You start looking at some of these stores that are popping up. It's because a consumer can't find what they're looking for. Maybe it needs to be more personalized, or more locally oriented. You're looking then at what you can do as a small business, a small retailer to support your area, your region, or your community," Dunlop explained.

This is something that boutiques like Blue Moon and Sophie have tapped into.

"I've literally stopped carrying brands when a new boutique has opened and has the same brand. I'll find something else is my mentality. I would rather just drop it and move onto something else so that we constantly have something different than to keep carrying the same thing," said Wakefield.

Joplin has boutiques all along Main Street, but the ones that last find ways to be unique and connect with shoppers.

"I'm lucky enough that I have some amazing customers that are almost like a little piece of my family, some of them. So, yeah, it's really amazing to think about that part," Wakefield said.

While Sophie Boutique has a website for online sales, Wakefield says that this will always be secondary to her brick-and-mortar store, as maintaining close customer relationships is vital to her business. Blue Moon operates under the same principle, sticking to advertising items through social media and encouraging in-person transactions.

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