Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store.
Pam Martin: Bertha Church Intimate Apparel is located on the Church Street Marketplace in the heart of Vermont’s largest city, Burlington. Bertha Church is a veritable landmark in Burlington, being the oldest boutique in the most prominent shopping area in Vermont. The store is an award winning bra fitting shop that has been servicing the greater Burlington area for over 50 years and is well known for its personal assistance and special services. We work closely with our customers as we appreciate their loyalty and are dedicated to keep growing in the direction that the customers have helped guide us in. It is amazing when ladies come in with their daughters to get their first bra fittings just as they did as a young girl. This is inspiring for us, the third owners of Bertha Church, to continue the tradition and carry on the business in an innovative direction within the lingerie industry.
Ladies throughout the state, neighboring states, as well as Canadians from the bordering Quebec province oftentimes make trips to the Church Street Marketplace specifically to visit Bertha Church. Women visit the store to see what new designers we are carrying as well as to purchase tried and true designers that we have done business with for many years.
Everyday bras, shapewear, hosiery, athletic wear, maternity essentials, and sleepwear fill the space and serve to complete the store as a one-stop shop for all women’s lingerie. We strive to offer a blend of styles for every mood, occasion and lifestyle as we know that each woman has a very different fashion sense as well as need when it comes to their undergarments. The Bertha Church legacy continues to live on in Vermont and has recently grown by opening their second store, Belle Mode Intimates in the Fairfax Corner Plaza in Fairfax, Virginia. With plans to renovate the interior of the store, Bertha Church is well positioned to carry on the tradition that begun by Bertha Church herself over 50 years ago.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Pam: Customers come to us because we offer services and products that are hard to find, while staying committed to providing superior individual customer service. Shopping with us is about the experience rather than a mere transaction. Our bra fit specialists have been trained with proper knowledge and are honest. Customer satisfaction is the number one priority to all the members of the Bertha Church team. For example, if we do not carry a particular style or size that is desired by our customer, we special order for them with our non-commitment ordering process. We also ship for free to any location in North America.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Pam: With our brands we look for companies that produce quality merchandise for a reasonable cost. When doing the buying for the store we are always thinking about the customers who shop with us and strive to bring in the most desirable merchandise for that demographic. Some of the brands that we’ve done continuously well with over the years are Chantelle, Wacoal, Natori, Hanky Panky, Fleur’t, Bravado, Panache, Elle Macpherson, Cosabella, The Eveden Brand, COTN, Carole Hochman, Eberjey, Kenan, Montelle.
Ted: What are the latest trends?
Pam: With the holidays fast approaching the popular items are strapless bras and shape wear for underneath special occasion dresses, black bra and panty sets, patterned and non-patterned hosiery, leggings and layering pieces, silk and flannel pajamas, soft sleep wear, cozy robes, seamless underwear for no panty lines, and of course, sexy lingerie.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Pam: About half of our merchandise comes priced by the manufacturer and half does not. The majority of the items that are not priced, we mark up less than other stores, which makes our prices extremely competitive within the market. We do our very best to have something for everyone who walks through the door, with bra prices varying from $20-$120 and sizes varying from 28AA-50K.
Since we are a specialty store and ladies seek us out for our services, we tend to have a lot of customers who are a “hard to find” size. Band sizes 28, 30, 32, 40, 42 and cup sizes AA, A, E, F, FF, G, H and so on are some of the sizes we specialize in.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
Pam: This is completely dependent upon the purpose of their visit, but I’d have to say our average customer spends $100-$200 because they find so many items to choose from.
Ted: Describe your customer.
Pam: Our customer base tends to be, but is not limited to, females between the ages of 14 and 75, who are seeking well fit undergarments, looking for a hard to find bra size, value good quality lingerie and sleep wear for reasonable prices. Our motto, which we unveiled with the new store is “…every woman deserves the perfect fit.”
Ted: What else can you tell us about your business?
Pam: As a team, the women at Bertha Church do much more than solve bra fitting problems. We uplift the confidence of our client. We show women that the right styles combined with the right fit will provide her comfort, and improve her body image. Enhancing our customer’s personal style and raising her self-confidence is our main goal along with building strong trustworthy relationships with our customer base.