Local Shops Revitalize America’s Historic Downtowns
When Chris Taylor and Austin Young moved to Quincy, Illinois they saw a need. This small town had a great high end clothing boutique as well as wonderful moderately priced home and clothing shops. But there was a lack of entry level clothing and home options.
“We were seeing scores of young ladies driving two hours to the closest big city to go shopping… we want to give them a place in our own town to start that shopping” said Chris.
To that end, Chris and Austin dreamed up a unique concept—For Home & Her—a collective of local home and clothing lines brought together with well-chosen wholesale products (you guessed it, Melrose is among the home products sold in the shop!). Other products include home goods, local jewelry, a local photographer and a graphic artist (who makes amazing art like this “eat your vegetables” sign ).
Their initial focus started with hard and soft line home goods, but when Chris and Austin saw the gap of affordable clothing in the area, they started weaving complimentary apparel lines into the product mix. The appeal includes price conscious women’s accessories; both new and vintage. “In early fall we will have new clothing with unique vintage accents, like cardigans with vintage buttons added, so that each woman can have a unique, one of a kind, piece at an affordable price,” Chris said.
How it Works
Chris explains the unique setup of the shop. “We call our local artisans Purveyors, harkening back to an older time when traveling salesmen would setup in local village squares to sell their wares”. He and his partner have created their own village square and offer the purveyors a place to showcase their goods.
At the front of the store Chris, who has a background in fashion merchandising, constructs elaborate window and entry vignettes. These areas are used to “highlight purveyors and create a cohesive statement to show shoppers how products can fit into their home and wardrobe,” says Chris.
The store is promoted in social media through a combined effort of Chris and Austin as well as the purveyors. This has proved a fruitful strategy—the shop gained almost 500 Facebook fans in the first two weeks alone. “We will continue to use social media as a key platform for marketing until it starts to plateau” Chris said. After that he plans to partner with local news agencies (check out this recent news story) and continue on to traditional, local advertising.
Through all of this—bringing together local artisans and offering affordable home and clothing products—Chris and Austin have their eye on the community. They see their store as part of the resurgence of the historic downtown and work to develop relationships with the other shop owners so they can work together to continue to make Quincy, Illinois a desirable place to live and shop.
How are you filling needs for goods or services in your community? Have you found that partnering with local artisans or vintage goods purveyors is a way to bring unique products to your shop? We’d love to hear about how you are creating community in the comments below.