Customers demand and enjoy a GREAT Retail Experience
I have been in the retail business since I was 18 years old, starting off with a clothing boutique and these last thirty years in the gift market. Since entrepreneurship apparently runs in my blood I can’t imagine not having my own store; but to be successful I know it’s important to stay abreast of changing markets and trends. Keeping up with social media and constantly posting on Instagram has had to become my new norm.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the rapidly changing retail environment with competition from big box stores and most especially from Amazon. However, small business retailers have a competitive advantage that none of these bigger, better capitalized retail giants have: thier own personal touch. The experiential side of retail, the part that involves discovering great products and socializing with others, is not going away. I smile when I read stores about Restoration Hardware trying to build experiences by opening bistros in their new flagship locations; The Doves Nest has offered that concept for 24 years.
“When we bought our building in 1994, we inherited a large antique mall with over 30 dealers on one side of the building and started the restaurant on the other side. Over time I began to take more of the space and expand into gifts, bath and body, candles, bedding and home accents.”
I still have a few vendors who co-op with me carrying antiques and specialized items such as vintage ribbon and lace, children’s toys, women’s clothing and one of a kind jewelry. In addition, we have an exciting new look at The Doves Nest featuring the wonderful items Mary Baskin brings back from her travel excursions to exotic places like England, France, Ireland and Morocco. Mary not only owns The English Merchant’s Inn, Waxahachie’s premier bed & breakfast, but she also takes small groups with her who want to travel and experience the flea markets in Paris, shop the bazaars in Marrakech, or take cheese making classes on a sheep farm in Ireland. We also have new clothing vendors at The Doves Nest showcasing beautiful crisp linen lines such as Match Point and fun embroidery tunics by Johnny Was.
“Finding new products that other retail stores are not carrying is always a challenge and a goal. Sadly, the Dallas Gift Market doesn’t draw the vendors to Texas like they used to.”
The Atlanta, New York and Las Vegas shows are the more prominent markets to attend now. I often stay so busy with the restaurant and catering side of our business that I have to rely on research to find new products that aren’t currently found in our area and also look for wonderful items through my travels.
Despite the challenges and competition, I am excited about the future of retail. People will still shop at brick-and-mortar stores, not because they want to “buy stuff,” but because they want to have experiences that they won’t find anywhere else. That is what makes historic downtown Waxahachie a real gem. I believe people who sit behind a computer all day want to get out and see things, come for lunch, shop our gift store, smell our candles, try on new clothes or buy a birthday card.
It is a special blessing that we have gotten to know so many of our customers by name, and many have become friends, if not more like family. I am grateful for the joy it has brought me and grateful to be part of our wonderful and supportive community here in Ellis County.