(Filed Under Retailer News). Q&A with Valerie Lammon, president & key buyer of La Boutique de la Lingerie & Bridal, an intimate apparel boutique in Melbourne, Fla.
Number of stores: 1
Square footage: 2,400
Year opened: 2007
Amanda Torres Price, BODY: Describe your store.
V.L.: We are open seven days a week during regular mall hours. Besides being professional bra fitters we are also a one-stop bridal store. The store is divided in half; bridal on one side, bras and lingerie on the other side. We have found that nowadays you need to sell more than just one category of merchandise. We carry the largest selection of bra sizes in our area and surrounding areas. Cup sizes run from AA to N, and band sizes from 28 to 56. Most of our customers are cup size D to N and band sizes 28 to 44. Our special order business is doing very well since we cannot carry every bra in every size and color. We carry over 20 bra companies. [I am] also a certified mastectomy bra fitter, and we carry Jodee and Trulife for that customer.
A.T.P.: What makes your store special?
V.L.: We are professional bra fitters that actually know how to fit a bra, not just push a customers into buying a bra just to make a sale or quote. Department store employees have no idea how a bra should fit. We have helped so many women that can’t find bras anywhere else. We do not carry what the department stores carry, only bras made by bra manufacturers that do not sell to department stores. We do a huge business in nursing bras since we sell up to an I [in the category].
A.T.P.: What brands are important to your store?
V.L.: My number one bra is by CJ Grenier; women just love style 8495. Fantasie; Freya; Elomi; Affinitas; Jodee; TruLife; Va Bien; Bravado; and Bella Materna [are also popular]. I personally wear Va Bien 1515. I love that bra; it feels like you are not even wearing a bra. I also have their strapless 1506 and bridal corset bra 523 as it is for long torso women: I’m 5’ 10” and it fits me perfectly. I have done away with a couple of brands, [including] Empreinte because it is just too expensive for the area we are in even though they are beautiful bras, [and] Dereon because they do not fit well at all.
A.T.P.: What styles are popular?
V.L.: Being we are in Florida, most women prefer bras with little to no lining, such as Grenier all cotton bras, or Freya and Fantasie microfiber bras. Most women want any type of bra as long as it fits correctly; that is the most requested answer we get when we ask ‘what type of bra do you like?’ Balcony bras are the most popular either with or without lining.
A.T.P.: What price and size range do you carry?
V.L.: Our bras range from $25 for Affinitas to $61.99 and up for Grenier, Freya and Fantasie to $99.99 for Elomi bridal bras.
A.T.P.: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
V.L.: $65 to $100.
A.T.P.: What is your typical or average customer size?
V.L.: From 36D or 44JJ and M.
A.T.P.: Describe your customer base.
V.L.: Females any age from 13 on up to 89, as we carry bras and bridal gowns for all shapes, sizes and ages. Our customer base is large, as we can fit just about any size. We also carry men’s silk items, briefs, boxers, robes, and kids merchandise, mostly communion and christening outfits.
A.T.P.: What other information would you like to share?
V.L.: We are a family owned store. I started the store in 2007, and my sister came to help me in late 2007. My daughter Karie and my nieces help out also. My sister Shari and I grew up in the bridal/lingerie business as our mom had a store in Kalamazoo, Mich., so I have been fitting bras and bridal gowns since I was 16. Being we have been in retail our whole life, we bring years of experience to our store with the knowledge we have. Our goal is to be the best lingerie/bridal store in the area.
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