Downtown boutique relocates to corner on Main
Regular customers of Whimsy's Closet should not have difficulty finding the store's new location. The women's boutique reopened its doors after shifting to the corner on Red Wing's Main Street Friday, June 7.
Owner Susan J. Olson describes the moving process as a little chaotic, but says that was OK.
"This space just has a wonderful energy and in all honesty there were a few tears shed leaving our other space because it had become home," Olson said. "This is just the best corner in town."
The old address — just one storefront down on Bush Street — was smaller, forcing Olson to hang much of her merchandise on the walls. The Main Street address is more spacious and allows her to spread out and display items including one-of-a-kind clothing, jewelry and bags. Whimsy's Closet is now on the corner of a heavy traffic area, making the move optimal for business.
"It's just an opportunity to show our merchandise better," Olson said.
Olson, who has a degree in home economics, has an appreciation for her merchandises' fabric, seams and buttons. She notices the little details like flat fell seams and extra pleats on the back of blouses.
"They're pieces of art," Olson said.
She enjoys the designs and learning about the designers who create the products featured at Whimsy's Closet. She knows many of the designers' stories and how they came up with their ideas, as well as where they are located.
"It's fun touching fabrics and looking at buttons and hearing the stories behind the artists and what they chose to do and why they put things together," Olson said.
Whimsy's Closet merchandise lines come from across the country and across the world. There are pieces made in Italy, Spain, Israel and Lithuania.
Connection to Red Wing
Whimsy's Closet opened in 1997 and has moved a total of three times within Red Wing. Olson estimates over half of her customers are from Red Wing.
"Red Wing has been very good to us, they come back repeatedly," Olson said.
The other customers are typically people who have stumbled upon the store or have made the store their destination.
Whimsy's Closet is not just a boutique but a place where residents of Red Wing can convene and talk about the happenings of their lives. When Olson was asked what her favorite part of running her store was she replied "the people."
"The people who come in are very kind to us," Olson said. "People are just fun."
None of the store's employees work there full time. Olson says they work there more for the fun of it and that they enjoy working with customers She says her employees know the inventory well so they are able to really help customers, noting that their ability to personalize the shopping experience for their customers is what makes their store unique.
Uniqueness provides an edge
While online shopping is convenient and can offer a variety of choices, small brick-and-mortar stores have their own advantage, a personalized shopping experience. Olson says she does not see online shopping as a threat.
"I don't even think we are in competition with that, I think it's irrelevant personally," Olson said. "People that come here want to show their baby pictures, they talk about the weather. You get to know people."
Big-box stores do not scare Olson either.
"We're not anything like Walmarts or Targets," Olson said. "We bring in pieces that are unique."
According to Olson it is uniqueness and personalization of the shopping experience that gets customers coming back.
Many Whimsy's Closet pieces are made out of unique and colorful fabrics. There is only a limited number of each style, this is so it is unlikely that one customer will run into another person wearing the same outfit.
Whimsy's Closet turns over its merchandise every three to four months, making sure to keep things fresh. Olson says she finds the unique items at markets where she just snoops around looking for items that pique her interest.
"Every season is different, you always find something new and something you're excited about," Olson said.
Olson says she also tries to be really honest with the people that come into her shop. If something does not look quite right on a person, staff will help that customer and suggest other items to try. They ask what their customers are after and listen to what their customers want.
"We've been Whimsy's for a long time, and we'll continue to be Whimsy's," she said.
Olson plans on being in the new location indefinitely.