Deborah Furr wanted to offer the women of her area an alternative to mall shopping. Armed with 28 years of retail experience, in 2000 Furr opened the doors to her 600-square-foot intimate apparel and swimwear boutique, Johari Intimates, at 47 South Park Street in Montclair, New Jersey.
"The concept of the store is to offer fashionable merchandise and over the top customer service to [women] who prefer shopping on Main Street over the mall," Furr, who is also the store's buyer, said.
Today, Johari is stocked with bra sizes all the way from an AA through a K cup, ranging in price from $28 to $110. Her variety of size and price may be the reason why her customer base is also varied: she described clientele as "young at heart" 15- to 60-year-olds, all of whom are looking for good quality for a fair price. She added that many flock to Johari after experiencing improper fitting at other stores; since Johari's three-person staff makes sure that "every first time customer is fitted."
"Molded bras are always in demand, and today's woman will not accept being fitted in the wrong size and is very aware of the need to be fitted correctly," Furr commented. "Many stores in the area push customers to settle for a bra that is not the perfect fit, but we are constantly re-fitting our customers."
Johari's most-requested brands are Wacoal, Hanky Panky thongs running at $18, and Spanx shapewear, which Furr described as "the most important brand currently on the market." Furr has noticed that, in addition to awareness about proper fitting, shapewear is gaining popularity, and today's woman wants "to have some sort of shapewear on."
Furr believes that women keep coming back to Johari because, in addition to its convenient location, the shop offers excellent and knowledgeable customer service unparalleled in other local intimates stores. In addition to making customers feel comfortable, the open layout of the store allows them to see all available products "at a glance."
To keep sales up despite the poor economy, Johari employs superior customer service and "aggressive advertising" in local newspapers, target magazines, and Google. To keep abreast to current trends and connect with vendors, Furr also annually attends the Curve show in New York City and the Swimshow in Miami, Florida.