A great amenity that the Little Apple offers is the wide variety of small businesses located in Aggieville and downtown Poyntz Avenue. Among these small businesses are several boutiques that are unique to Manhattan and surrounding college towns. The benefits of shopping at local boutiques can include diversity in consumer choices, better customer service and store profits tend to help the surrounding community.
On the other hand, some shoppers find there are multiple downsides of shopping at boutiques, such as higher-priced items and clothing pieces are made out of materials that are a pain to clean. The big question is do the benefits of local boutiques outweigh the negative aspects of the stores?
When walking into a chain store you will likely know ahead of time what types of items you are going to come across. This is because the same clothing items tend to be in the store for a longer period of time. On the other hand, when you walk into smaller boutique stores, this kind of feeling may be more of a rarity. Boutiques tend to purchase lower quantities and more of a variety of individual pieces. Allison Heinen, freshman in kinesiology, said she enjoys shopping at local boutiques.
“You don’t have to worry that the clothes you buy are being worn by everyone else in the world,” Heinen said. “The clothing pieces also tend to add more character and diversity to your wardrobe.”
Boutiques are designed to keep up with ever changing trends, and, as a result, it is commonly thought that shopping at local boutique’s come at a higher price for your wallet. That being said, Gabrielle Burman, manager at Fortuity (331 Poyntz Ave.), said she disagrees.
“At Fortuity, we know our market is in a college town; therefore, we try to make the merchandise as affordable as possible for our customers,” Burman said. “The clothing items that are available are meant to be trendy and to help shoppers create their own personal styles.”
Many individuals find that shopping at boutiques enables them to have better customer service experiences and is a major reason for shopping locally. Even store owners like Lindsay Hufnagal of The Boutique at 121 S. Fourth St., will attest to this fact.
“Shoppers receive tailored customer service, many times coming straight from the shop owner who also happens to be the merchandise or service expert,” Hufnagal said. “They are also able to form a lasting and trustworthy relationship.”
Some students who shop at boutiques have noticed, though, that it seems many of the clothes are more high maintenance when it comes to be handled and washed. This can be extra work for those who buy at boutiques.
“The downside of buying certain articles of clothing from boutiques comes when you have to go home and wash them,” Heinen said. “It seems as though some items can be more difficult and more of a hassle to wash than others.”
However, Burman said she believes that this is a misconception about boutiques in particular. Any clothing store big or small will have clothing made out of different materials. Washing and drying instructions will tend to differ on each piece of clothing, no matter where customers shop.
“It is very important to pay close attention to clothing labels and washing instructions because all articles of clothing could have different washing needs,” Burman said. “This is the same for any type of clothing store even big name retailers like Nordstrom’s.”
Despite boutiques’ reputation for higher prices and clothing that is difficult to care for, many individuals support them because a lot of the profit made by the stores is dispersed back into the community.
“It is important to shop local for so many reasons,” Hufnagal said. “Shopping local keeps more money in the local economy, benefiting infrastructure, our safety through police (and) fire departments and our parks and leisure activities. Local businesses are also the ones being asked over and over to donate to local charities, youth activities and school functions.”
Each person will have their own preference on whether or not they prefer to shop locally at boutiques. It is important to weigh the pro’s and con’s and decide for yourself if spending money on the boutique experience is right for you.