Today’s retail climate is exciting, fast-changing, energizing, and sometimes challenging. Part of the challenge is that shoppers have so many choices. They can shop online or shop when they travel out of town. They can shop at brick and mortar stores, where they can choose among big-box discount stores, national department stores, or stores that are locally owned.
I don’t have to tell you which choice your friendly El Paso retailers hope you pick!
To keep the customers coming in, experimentation has become the lifeblood of small business. People have often asked me how I learned the retail business because I certainly had no retail training or experience when I started running my own store more than 30 years ago. The answer: trial and error and experimentation. Try something new; see if it works. Repeat.
An experiment in the works
A couple of months ago, I brought in a new staff member – a savvy former Farah executive — to build on our success in women’s apparel, fine jewelry, and shoes. He suggested we open a “pop-up store” on the Eastside at The Fountains at Farah.
I told him that was a really dumb idea, and left it at that.
However, the notion wouldn’t leave the back of my mind. And other staff kept telling me they liked the idea.
As you may know “pop-up shops” are temporary retail spaces that began as a trend in urban settings such as Tokyo, London, and New York City. Pop-up stores can sell anything from art to fashion to tech gadgets. These short-term stores have generated a lot of excitement and can be really creative and engaging.
But I can be really stubborn. For the last two years I have told my friend John Folmer of RJL Real Estate Consultants in El Paso, the leasing agent for Paul Foster’s Fountains retail concept, there would be no way I would ever consider having a store at The Fountains.
In fact, my husband had already told John that if I ever tried to open a second store, we would probably no longer be married because I would end up too busy too stressed!
Well, guess what: Tres Mariposas is opening a pop-up store November 1 at The Fountains at Farah. And so far my marriage is intact!
The Fountains welcomes locals
And guess what else: other Westside boutiques apparently like the idea, too. I hear that Ella Blu, J Luxe, and Ruby Lola have committed to temporary or permanent stores at The Fountains. You’re going to have an irresistible treasure trove of beautiful, interesting local shops all in one fun shopping center.
The Fountains has been unusual in its pursuit of local specialty shops to add spice to its mix. Why do you think that is? Three guesses!
Yes, the correct answer is owner Paul Foster, the community-minded Western Refining business leader who is behind the Paul L. Foster School of Medicine, the Foster-Stevens Basketball Complex at UTEP, and the Chihuahuas baseball team partnership, to name a few of his projects.
From the outset, since even before the shopping center opened two years ago this month, Paul has pressed for local specialty store involvement and buy-in, to supplement the roster of national retailers. I now agree: what a great idea.
Soon Border-area shopping enthusiasts will have even more choices. So as the holiday season approaches, you can shop Westside stores, shop Eastside stores — just please remember to shop local stores!