Women of All Ages Flock to Jezebel's of Pennsylvania
Patty Stover had dreams of opening her own store, so when her daughter Jessie was old enough to be her partner, she decided to go for it.
The mother/daughter team opened the doors to their very own lingerie shop, Jezebel's Boutique, in State College, Pennsylvania in June 2007 at 1,334-square-feet.
"Having Jessie as a partner was the push I needed to branch out on my own," Stover said. "We just love it. Both of us had plenty of retail experience in other areas but neither of us knew how rewarding this business could be."
Although Stover's retail background was mostly as buyer and bookkeeper for a local ski shop, her daughter and her chose lingerie and bra fitting because the closest shop specializing in large cups and proper fitting was several hours away. But instead of simply catering to the needs of full-figured women larger than a DD, Stover stocked her store with bra sizes 28AA to 44M, since smaller-than-average women tend to have a hard time finding their size as well. The Stovers combine their "very different tastes" in their buying for the store, usually only purchasing merchandise that they both love.
Typical customers are either on the smaller-sized end of the cup-size spectrum, from AA to A, or are full-figured yet regular-sized women of the 34D to 36G range. The shop's entire staff of five is trained in bra fitting, and employees try to fit every woman before she buys a bra. They also educate customers on how their bras should fit so that regulars can come in, choose their correct size and head straight to the fitting room.
Bras range in price from $26 to $90, and panties come as low as $15 for a pack of three. Since they are located across the street from Pennsylvania State University, clientele includes college students, student's parents, professors and local women of all ages shopping for themselves as well as for wedding gifts and showers since the store carries a wide range of bridal lingerie. Men also drop by to shop for their girlfriends and wives since the store keeps a detailed record of their customers' sizes and favorite brands and styles on file.
Most-requested brands are Panache and Hanky Panky and Wacoal. The shop also recently added Wacoal's b.tempt'd brand, and according to Stover "the younger girls love it!" They also carry Chantelle, Betsey Johnson, Elle MacPherson, Fayreform, Fantasie, Felina, Goddess and Le Mystére.
Consistently popular styles include Hanky Panky thongs for $18, Spanx power panties for $30, bridal lingerie and nursing bras. The average customer spends $45 to $80 on a bra and $12 to $24 on panties, and a total of $100 per visit since Jezebel's also complements their lingerie selection with lower-priced pampering items like candles, bubble bath, stockings, cosmetics and handbags. There are also regulars, mostly women in their 40's and 50's, who spend between $200 and $300 a visit, and college students who run in for an $18 thong.
Although most women come in looking for a basic T-shirt bra, according to Stover they often also leave with a lacy bra and a few panties in tow.
"Many women that need larger cup sizes don't realize until they come in [to our store] that they can have pretty bras also,? Stover said.
According to her, Jezebel's charm lies not only in their whooping range of sizes but the fact that they cater to women of all ages. She describes the store's layout as "bright, cheerful and fun," so that women feel comfortable stepping inside, adding that it is "feminine without being too intimidating for men to come in."
"Most of our customers say they love the atmosphere here. Some of our regulars come in every few days just to catch up and see the new things we've gotten in," she said.
Although another bra-fitting shop has opened in a town nearby, according to Stover their business continues to increase, which she attributes to their size range and excellent customer service. Particularly in the current tough economic climate, she pays attention to which styles are selling, and which are gathering dust on the shelves. Since comfortable sleepwear is not a top-seller, Stover is phasing it out to make room for more of her popular brands bras.
Jezebel's has also amped-up their advertising to combat the poor economy through local newspapers and magazines like the Centre Daily Times, and Town and Gown magazine. But the store's most successful advertising campaign has been their billboard, which out-of-towners see when they come in droves for the Penn State football games.
All in all, Stover describes opening Jezebel's as "the best thing I have ever done." She is also glad to pass store ownership along to her daughter when she retires.
"Being able to help women feel better about themselves while also teaching them their bra should fit is an incredible experience,? she commented.