Q&A with Ann Emonts Sherman, owner & key buyer
Number of stores: 1
Location: New York City
Square footage: 650
Year opened: 2003
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store.
Ann: Darling is a unique boutique in the West Village specializing in dresses, vintage accessories and lingerie. We like to think of ourselves as a small store with a big selection. While we carry all the basics you might need, each and every corner is filled with special treasures you might not find anywhere else. As a customer once said, “Darling feels like a store from the movies — except it’s the real thing!” From our comfy vintage couch in the front of the store to our garden oasis in the back, we always want our customers to feel special.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Ann: People come to Darling for our selection and service. Our customers say time and time again that they always know they will find just the thing they are looking for at Darling. Helping customers find what they need is the best and most important part of our job. When you come to Darling, you’ll always get the attention you need — whether you need help finding your engagement party dress, or just need a few minutes of retail therapy!
Ted: Which brands are important to your store?
Ann: clothing brands include Eva Franco, Amanda Uprichard, BB Dakota, Blu Moon, Max and Cleo and Gold Hawk. We also feature some fabulous local designers such as Rolando Santana, Karina and Raquelle. Our favorite lingerie brands include Hanky Panky, Cosabella, Stola, Only Hearts, Maison Close and Mary Green.
Ted: What are you looking for in a vendor?
Ann: We look for vendors who uphold our store philosophy — we want to deliver unique, well-made pieces at a reasonable price point as well as excellent customer service. We love working directly with small and independent designers as well as salespeople who help us go the extra mile to get our customers just what they need.
Ted: Which brands are customers asking for by name?
Ann: We have such a wide range of requests! Since our lingerie level is new, we have been getting more questions related to that and it was something that we took into consideration when we did the preliminary buying for the store. We always have to ask the question, “What do people want?” The lingerie and foundation brand names that come up over and over again are Hanky Panky, Cosabella, Stola, Spanx and Only Hearts. We’ve made sure to carry a good selection of them all!
Ted: Describe popular styles or trends in your store.
Ann: Our store is all about appreciating everyone’s unique style. With our wide range of dresses and one-of-a-kind vintage accessories, our customers can put together outfits that look fabulous and are different from what anyone else is wearing. With our lingerie collection, our aim is to carry gorgeous sets that are also functional. We want to help our customers find the perfect dress — and the right thing to go underneath it.
Ted: What are your price and size ranges?
Ann: Dresses in the store range from $98 to $298 and lingerie from $18 to $138. We carry most brands in sizes XS to L and 0 to 8 and have several options for sizes 10 and 12 as well. Our lingerie sizes range from 32A to 36C and XS to L.
Ted: What is your average customer size?
Ann: We truly have a wide range of sizes — and ages! — that shop in our store, but sizes 2 to 6 usually sell out the fastest.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
Ann: About $150. For that, you can get a fabulous dress, a great top and skirt combo or a beautiful lingerie set.
Ted: Describe your customer base.
Ann: Our customer base is mostly female — and some really awesome guys who want to do something special for the women they love — and a wide range of ages. From the girl shopping for her junior prom to the proud new grandmom, we have something for everyone.