Ahwatukee boutiques

March 9, 2016 - Allison Altzman and Kim Kendall of Ahwatukee as they pose for a portrait at Adelaide Boutique, their store. Photo by Coleton Berry.

When one door closes, another one opens. For one boutique owner, that opportunity was fashionably on time. Two boutiques joined together to form a partnership.

When the owner of Clothes Minded boutique had to shut the doors after opening in 2013 due to slower traffic and lower profit than expected, she wasn’t sure what her next steps would be.

Clothes Minded boutique owner Kim Kendall found a solution with local businesswoman Allison Altzman, owner of Adelaide boutique in Phoenix. The two merged their boutiques in January this year to create one business and sell their products out of one location.

“I was pretty much devastated and broken-hearted because I really don’t like to fail at things,” Kendall said. “…and of course everybody said ‘You didn’t fail, you’ve learned so much, you’ve made so many contacts,’ but it still felt like failing because I was closing my dream business.”

Kendall and Altzman moved to the Valley in 2011 and 2012, respectively. They met through networking groups and encouraged customers to visit the other to support local businesses.

“I reached out to her right away when I found out about her store,” Kendall said. “Rather than be enemies, let’s get along, let’s collaborate, let’s see how we can both make our businesses successful together.”

Altzman said she and Kendall were eager to get involved in the community and promote their businesses when they moved to the Valley and remained friends through the years. A few years later, they each brought that same passion from their previous retail experiences to merge their businesses in a successful “collaborative partnership.”

“We truly got to know each other. We got to see each other run their business, operate, how we treated customers, what our thought processes were,” Altzman said. “I knew going into this that we were very like-minded, and that was important.”

A new venture

Kendall moved Clothes Minded into Adelaide boutique’s space to create a new dynamic. Part of the transition included a little redecorating and remodeling, Altzman said, but it was made easier because of their differing products.

Altzman sells home décor and gifts out of Adelaide boutique, and Kendall sells clothing out of Clothes Minded boutique.

“Since there is now a lot of different product, we don’t want it to look like a hot mess, we want it to flow and look cohesive and look like we planned for it to be like this,” Kendall said.

“I think the store looks better now than it ever has. I think it looks like it was opened this way,” Altzman said of the boutique.

Both women said the merger has helped them to grow their customer base and increase traffic into their store given the variety available.

“People have been so excited to see that not only did I not have to be done, but two local businesses coming together into one so we can both work together to be successful, they just think that’s the greatest thing ever,” Kendall said.

Altzman said the overhead for the business is now shared; they purchase their own products and share advertising work, promotions, events and supplies.

“There are so many advantages,” Altzman said. “Customer base growth, we can diversify, so we offer more than we used to, we also have lessened our expenses and the best part is to be able to collaborate with someone and have two heads — two heads are always better than one, so that’s been an asset.”

The owners also pride themselves on carrying locally made products.

“We are very attracted to local brands,” Altzman said. “If we’re wanting people to support us, we want to support other people like us, just trying to make a living and do something that they love.”

Adelaide boutique sells a good amount of a local brand called Beautifully Broken, where an Ahwatukee resident makes her décor and jewelry from broken glass. Clothes Minded boutique’s biggest selling brand is State Forty Eight.

“I think chain shopping is so impersonal; you don’t get that service component; you don’t get that relationship quite the way you do in a small store,” Kendall said.

“We’ve got the stories we can tell about the products because we know the people that make them, so I think that’s really cool.”

Customer Carly Klessens of Ahwatukee started shopping at Clothes Minded when it opened in 2013 and likes shopping locally.

“The thing that I like about Clothes Minded is the uniqueness of the clothes…she’ll only get in six, eight sizes of one item, so it’s not like you’re going to walk around and see everybody wearing the same thing like you would from the big stores,” Klessens said.

Since the merger in January, Klessens said she has been into the boutique five times. She said she shops for her family and buys gifts as well, wine accessories from Adelaide or men’s State Forty Eight T-shirts from Clothes Minded.

“I love to support the local businesses, I used to have my own small handbag business and realize the value of shopping locally and support the smaller businesses, because that’s who puts money back into our community,” Klessens said.

Both women said since the merger they have noticed each of their customers have become the other’s customers. If they come in looking for a gift and not clothing on a particular day, they can find what they want at one boutique.

Moving on

“Ahwatukee is kind of like a giant cul-de-sac; everybody knows everybody else, it’s kind of a small community…there aren’t very many gift and clothing locally owned boutiques in Ahwatukee besides us,” Kendall said.

The boutique also drives traffic to their store by hosting in-store events. Altzman said they want to do whatever they can to stand out from the next retailer and to develop their relationships with their customers.

“Building friendships, building relationships, taking care of our customers, giving them a reason to stop by the store and say ‘hi’ and see what’s going on,” Altzman said.

They also have in-store promotions; one coming up is their St. Patrick’s Day promotion where customers who wear green will receive discounts. On April 13, they will also have a special Birthday Bash where customers will get 50 percent off half of the store to celebrate Altzman’s 50th birthday.

Although what lies ahead is uncertain, both women said they hope to keep growing their customer base and be able to sell more products to become a one-stop shop for their customers.

“I want to grow our customer base, I want to grow our product lines so that we have a larger variety of things we sell and really curate what we sell so that our customers love it all and this is their go-to-place for everything,” Kendall said.

“My thought when I opened this up, was I wanted to provide an affordable boutique,” Altzman said. “My hope is that Kim and I will continue to do that, and people will think of us when they either want something unique to wear or need a little gift you can’t get everywhere. They’ll think of Adelaide Clothes Minded.”

Visit Adelaide Clothes Minded boutique at 4910 E. Chandler Blvd. in Ahwatukee. Hours are 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Friday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday. Call the boutique at 480-621-5322 or visit adelaideboutique.com for more information.

• Contact writer: 480-898-6581 or atufts@evtrib.com.

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