Skip to main content

Retailer Experience: Connections, Customers & Identity

Join us as we dive into a Q&A with different retailers. We explore what works, do's and don'ts and valuable advice for newbies looking to start their own business. Every experience is unique to each retailer. We hope to bring you helpful information and stories for your own retailer journey.
person setting out wax filled candles on wood riser

Connecting People, Connecting Businesses

Market-style shopping events present home decor retailers with a host of opportunities to increase exposure, build connections, gather feedback, drive sales, and stay relevant. "A rural retail shopping experience" is what Bonnie at HOME🌿STEAD has created. An environment that allows her to share her style, foster community and growth for other small businesses and make a personal connection with customers. Let's dive into Bonnie's retail experience:

What works well for you?

Bonnie: My whole purpose is connection. Connecting people, connecting businesses and giving my customers a place to find beautiful home decor that helps them feel confident about their homes. When someone feels good about their space, they are more willing to invite others in for connection. So I guess staying focused on that core principle for my business seems to resonate with people who come to my markets or workshops.

Market shopping event at Homestead, photo credit Rachel Jordan Photography

 Image Credit: Rachel Jordan Photography (@racheljordanphoto). 

What are your do's and don'ts:

Bonnie: Do follow your own style! What do you love in your home? How do you decorate your own space? Once you define that, then add items that fit your vibe to your inventory. You'll be more excited to show your customers and you will attract the right people to your business who also love what you love.

Do support other businesses around you. Even ones that may feel competitive... I believe that supporting the other small business women (and men) in your own area is a must to help build community. That can be as simple as reposting their events, messaging the owners to cheer them on in their success, or showing up and shopping with them. 

Don't continue to do what doesn't work. The more quickly we learn to pivot, the more time we can invest in the things that do work. 

How has hosting market events been positive for your business or brand?

Bonnie: For me, hosting market events is all about collaboration and community. It is fun getting to support other small businesses while also offering a more robust shopping experience to my customers. The monthly market also provides an opportunity to introduce my customers to other local brands that I love, and brings new customers to my shop who learn about the market through the businesses that pop-up with me. We all get to grow together and everyone benefits. The market each month provides an opportunity for connection, which is one of my core values as a business. Businesses connect with each other, customers in our community connect with new businesses they may not know about, and - most importantly - people have the chance to connect with each other in a fun way at each event.

What is one thing you wish you did differently?

Bonnie: I'm still a pretty new business so I'm still learning what works and what doesn't... I'll have to get back to you on that one.

Retail shelves with home decor and candle at Homestead retail shop, image credit Bonnie at Homestead

Image Credit: Bonnie (@shop.home.stead)

Do you have any advice for a retailer looking to take the leap?

Bonnie: If you're interested in starting a boutique, my number one piece of advice is to keep your operating costs as low as possible. Would a big beautiful space be amazing? Yes, of course. But the costs that come with a space add a lot of stress and pressure. Consider popping-up for the first year or two. Ask other small businesses if you can pop-up, find markets and shows that will attract your customer, even ask friends to host you! Grow a customer base and a following and then if / when you open your doors, you'll have customers ready to support you.

Follow @shop.home.stead, or visit Homestead

Diverse Customers, Diverse Styles

"Carefully curated" is undeniably a defining factor in Beach Grove Cafe & Boutiques brand. This is especially apparent in their beautiful website and social grid. Successfully appealing to a diverse range of customers is no easy feat. But the mother-daughter duo has found a balance of styles, paired with their own looks that appeals to many.

What works well for you?

Madison: As we sell across Canada and the US, we find that we have a diverse customer base that have different taste in interior styles. That mainly being coastal, farmhouse, organic modern design. What works well for us is to style home decor in our shop according to these looks - while keeping a nice flow throughout the displays. How-to styling videos on social media have done very well for us to give inspiration to our customers.

home decor retail display at Beach Grove Cafe & Boutique

Image Credit: Beach Grove Cafe & Boutique (@beachgrovecafe)

What are you do's and don'ts?

Madison: Always keep track of how your products are selling. Find what sells and stick with it! As much as you want to showcase all the amazing brands, space is limited and at the end of the day you have to focus on what the majority of your customers are interested in.

Post as much as you can on social media! Our customers rely on our social media channels to stay updated on what’s new and noteworthy. We love our online community! 

home decor retail display with ladders at Beach Grove Cafe & Boutique

Image Credit: Beach Grove Cafe & Boutique (@beachgrovecafe)

What is one thing you wish you did differently?

Madison: Ask your customer base their opinions on what they want to see in the shop to get insight on what you should be buying! We have learned a lot along the way and are now in tune with what our customers like but we could have done this more often at the start. 

home decor retail display with greenery and baskets at Beach Grove Cafe & BoutiqueImage Credit: Beach Grove Cafe & Boutique (@beachgrovecafe)

Do you have any advice for a retailer looking to take the leap?

Madison: Make sure that there’s something different about your brand that would appeal to potential customers! There’s a lot of competition out there and it’s important to focus on finding your unique offering. 

Follow @beachgrovecafe, or visit Beach Grove Cafe & Boutique