Victoria's Secret used to be the only place to buy intimates in Bozeman, Mont., that is, until Jolee Barry set out to offer women a different and, in her mind, better option for underwear shopping. She opened Suelto Boutique in the Midwest resort town in January 2008. She selected unique brands, merchandised her product and, as she expected, had a very promising tourist season during June and July of 2008.
She has also continued to do steadily well in December, January and February, despite the recession. One attraction for local shoppers is the year-round selection of swimwear offered at Suelto Boutique. "Everyone in Montana travels in the winter and most stores don't carry swimwear year round," Barry explained. She has loaded up on styles from Gottex, Huit and Cosabella-a name she said most of her customers recognize and are attracted to.
When it comes time to shop for intimates, women at Suelto are looking for a well-fitting bra. Wacoal, Cosabella, Huit, and the Montreal-based Montelle Intimates are her currently her best-selling brands. Barry said "People love Montelle because they are doing both the basic and fashion bras at fantastic price points," she said of the line, which generally retails for under $40. Once tourist season kicks in once again, Barry is sure she will see success in unexpected areas, and she is already adjusting her marketing techniques accordingly. She has painted the store's exterior bright yellow, and added a purple awning and other decorations to try and "draw people inside." She is also planning on advertising in local hotels during the summer months. Running a small business doesn't concern Barry. In fact, the new business owner believes she is running one of the most successful shops in downtown Bozeman right now. Thanks in part to an e-mail marketing campaign that offers friends and family a 20-percent-off coupon, Barry has been able to drive traffic into her store-and hopefully will for years to come.