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  • Nick Monjo

Houston's Top Drawer Expands

To mark the completion of the expansion of Houston's Top Drawer lingerie store, BODY associate publisher Ted Vayos interviewed the retailer's Dow Hickam.

Ted Vayos, BODY: Where is the store located?  What can you tell us about your surrounding neighborhood?

Dow Hickam, Top Drawer Lingerie: Top Drawer Lingerie is nestled in the heart of Houston’s vibrant Galleria Area, renowned as the city’s premier shopping destination. Situated within an upscale outdoor shopping center, Top Drawer is surrounded by a high-end boutiques, restaurants, and cafes.

Ted:  When did the business open? How many years has your business been at this location?  

Dow:  Top Drawer Lingerie first opened its doors to the Houston community in 1983. Our family took the reins in the mid-nineties. Since 2003, we have been in our current location in the Uptown Park Shopping Center. Recently, we signed a new 10-year lease, ensuring our presence for years to come.

 Ted:  How many customers a year shop at Top Drawer? 

Dow: Last year, we had the pleasure of serving 14,000 customers at Top Drawer Lingerie.

Ted:  How many employees currently work at Top Drawer? 

Dow: At Top Drawer Lingerie, we operate with a team of ten individuals. This includes eight sales associates who assist our customers. Additionally, we have two employees who work behind the scenes, managing our inventory and ensuring smooth operations in the back office.

Ted:  Did you decrease the retail footprint in the past? Why?  

Dow:  In the past, we made the decision to consolidate and decrease our retail footprint.  Before relocating to our current flagship location, Top Drawer Lingerie operated two stores less than 5 miles apart from each other.  This move allowed us to streamline operations and focus our efforts more effectively.  After 20 years in our current location, we recently expanded by adding 1400 sqft to our existing space.

Ted:  Many brick-and-mortar retail businesses are reducing their retail footprints and headed to the online why do you feel it is important for Top Drawer to expand its physical location?  How important are your online sales verses your brick-and-mortar business?  Which is stronger?  Why? 

Dow: In recent years, many brick-and-mortar retail businesses have shifted towards online platforms, yet for Top Drawer Lingerie, expanding our physical location was crucial. The growth we experienced, particularly after the pandemic, left us bursting at the seams. We needed more space for additional dressing rooms, a larger stockroom, and an expanded office area.

    At Top Drawer, we specialize in providing bra fitting services that simply cannot be replicated effectively online. We do maintain an online presence as a convenience for our existing customers and as a catalog for new customers, The heart of our business lies in the unique in-store experience we offer. Our dedicated team provides unparalleled customer service, ensuring each customer look and feels their best.

Ted:  How will this extra space be utilized to improve the retail experience at Top Drawer?  How will it impact your changing rooms, back office and the actual retail area of the store? 

Dow:  With our recent expansion, we relocated our offices and stockroom to the new 1400 square foot expansion space.  This allowed us to dedicate an additional 500 square feet to our sales floor. We were also able to increase the number of dressing rooms from 6 to 10. As a result, our retail area now boasts a more spacious and comfortable atmosphere. Additionally, the reorganization has provided us with an expanded stockroom and offices.

Ted:  What were some of the biggest challenges expanding?  

Dow: There is nothing about expanding that was not challenging! One of the toughest challenges was managing construction while keeping part of the store open for business.  

Ted:  What are some of the biggest challenges lingerie retailers are facing today?

Dow: I don’t know if there are any new or greater challenges in the lingerie business. 

Ted:  What has your company done to make your business more of a destination and a specialty store for consumers?  

Dow: For Top Drawer Lingerie the keys to success have been to prioritize customer service, with a knowledgeable and friendly sales staff.  

    Our inventory features attractive, well-fitting merchandise at various price points. 

    Our store is designed to be beautiful and interesting, enhancing the shopping experience for our customers. 

Ted: Do you have plans to open more retail locations? Where?

Dow: No!! We have no plans to expand. Our focus remains on serving the Houston Metropolitan area, where we are committed to providing exceptional service and products to our community.


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