There’s a lot more to retail than selling something a customer wants. More and more, customers want experience. They want to feel like they’re buying into something — a lifestyle, an ethos, a trend.
Smart retailers, of course, know their customers. Really smart retailers know their customers better than they know themselves. Curation, then, is the name of the name.
Even with a treasure trove of marketing data available at your fingertips, selecting what you sell is still a challenge. That’s how local retailers hold their ground in the age of e-commerce: They know their customers better than anyone. Some are so good at it, they can game the system the other way around: selling their collections online.
Charlotte Cryer has operated Caroline & Co. in Lafayette since 1997. The shop offers a wide variety of goods and gift ideas. Home decor and accessories, clothing, bath and beauty supplies and holiday specialties. Caroline & Co. has two locations now, with its flagship store in the River Ranch neighborhood.
Charlotte has also found a market for her goods online. They offer complimentary gift-wrapping and can ship straight from the store to anywhere in the country.
If you’re selling wedding dresses, curation is everything. Brides want to feel special on their wedding day, and they’ll pay handsomely for it. Gowns can cost $2,000 or more. It’s a lot to spend on something you’ll (theoretically) wear only once.
Nicole Cline takes each sale one by one. Her shop Sposa Bella has one dressing room, and her brides come in by appointment only. That approach gives Nicole the time and space to attend to the details of what brides want. She does extensive interviews with her customers before they try anything on. From there, brides and their families are treated to a concierge experience complete with champagne and music.
That level of care was missing when Nicole’s daughter got engaged and bought her wedding dress. When Nicole saw the opportunity to buy Sposa Bella, she seized the chance to fill that gap in the Lafayette bridal market.