New Boutique in Lincoln Square Strives to Give its Customers What They Want
By Patrick Butler
It’s no secret that even well-established bricks-and-mortar retail stores have in recent years faced intense competition from on-line retailers but that hasn’t scared Genny Konz, one of the neighborhood’s newest merchants, from jumping into a retail business with both her feet.
Just a little over a month ago, the Wicker Park resident traded her financial career for retailing. “I kind of let my job define me,” she explained, adding she felt it was just the right time to push the restart button.
But going into retailing wasn’t just a lark, said Konz, who spent months researching North Side neighborhoods and their specific needs before she decided to open Genevieve Boutique at 4745 N. Lincoln Ave.
She settled on the Lincoln Square/Northcenter area because it seemed to have the right target-audience for what she had in mind – a full-service boutique that sold women’s clothing ranging in price from the moderately-priced to $300 blouses.
“My target was women in their 30s through 50s, young professionals and busy moms who don’t have time to go out and shop yet want to have some kind of interaction with the store staff,” Konz explained
She adds her customers also include a handful of ladies in their 60s and 70s who don’t quite consider themselves “seniors” and also, a handful of men looking for gifts for their wives or girlfriends.
“We hope to see more (men), especially around the holidays,” Konz added.
While it’s true a lot of retailers (including some major retailers) have gone out-of-business, Konz believes that’s because they hadn’t been paying enough attention to their customers. Her goal is to provide her customers with a positive “overall experience” that goes beyond simply selling merchandise to customers that remain anonymous.
Konz believes the difference between her store’s approach and that of some of the other retailers is that she is providing her customers with just-the-right merchandise and she is not afraid to be “super-flexible.”
“I try to watch what people are buying and wearing. I need to know if those $300 blouses are selling or if I should be focusing on lower-cost items,” she added.
While she plans to use promotional tools such as newspaper ads when it seems practical, Konz said she plans to focus “heavily” on social-media, not only because it’s less expensive, but has a wider audience these days.
In the months ahead, Genny Konz expects to be doing a lot of networking through groups like the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce, which she recently joined.
For the moment, at least, her staff consists only of Genny and her sister, Katie Land. For the time being, she’s not even dreaming of expanding the staff.
Her advice to others thinking of following her lead from Corporate America to Main Street?
Find the right location. You have to be in the right place with the right merchandise. Customers not only have to be able to find you, but they have to be comfortable enough dealing with you to want to come back.
She added she doesn’t just want people to be comfortable in her store, but “I want people to have fun visiting this store.”