Q&A with Rhonda Finkelstein & Randi Szymkowicz
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store.
Rhonda Finkelstein and Randi Szymkowicz: We are a store front boutique located in a suburban neighborhood in North Toronto. We have a large window with display that lures customers into our boutique where they are pampered with personal service & free advice. Our store is 1500 square feet on the main level, of which 1000 sq/ft of it is dedicated to lingerie, and the balance to swimwear. There is another 1000 sq/ft of office and stock room on the lower level.
We are a unique store because the lingerie division Legs Plus & Bra Boutique is owned by 2 friends, Randi & Rhonda, and the swimwear division, Beachwear Unlimited, is owned by their mothers, Elly & Marilyn respectively. We operate as 2 separate businesses under the same roof, sharing fitting rooms and floor space.
When entering our boutique, the customer feels like they are walking into a spacious layout. The colours are warm & welcoming. Our Bras, Panties, & Shapewear are displayed on the walls, floor stands, and within lingerie cabinets. Hosiery is displayed behind the counter and is easily accessible to touch and feel! We feature various products in the front of the store that offer a great visual display that makes the customer curious and want to travel throughout the boutique. Various lingerie accessories, posters are displayed on plexi-glass shelves and counter tops.
We have a sitting area for those chaperoning our ladies. We offer water & reading material to help pass the time away.
There are 7 comfy fitting rooms, including 1 that is wheel chair accessible. All with large mirrors and bright lighting.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Rhonda and Randi: Customers shop at our boutique because we understand their’ needs & wants. We strive to provide our customers with the best service; offering quality products & styles. We have developed an outstanding reputation based upon our heartwarming personalities & determination to make our customers feel valued. And it is through this mission that we have created 30 years of a loyal following.
Upon entering our boutique, you are greeted with friendly staff whose goals are to make each and every customer feel comfortable and welcome. It’s like you are entering our bedroom for a personalized bra experience.
We help women discover what well-fitted underpinnings can do for their appearance and self esteem. We are a family of women educating women, helping find solutions to their bra problems. Our knowledgeable & enthusiastic sales staff will work to make sure that our customers get the proper fitting bra with the right support that is comfortable & fashionable.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Rhonda and Randi: When we do our buying we look for products of quality, in fabric, up to date styling & fit. We personally try on each and every bra, panty, & shaper, to see how they fit, ensuring comfort as well. Often we will search for products requested by our customers as part of our very personal customer service. We bring in new products regularly, keeping with the trends, so that our customers have new & exciting intimates to choose from. Within each brand we buy a variety of designs suitable for all women’s shapes & sizes. We offer brands from around the world such as: Anita, Chantelle, Elila, Elomi, Empriente, Fantasie, Felina, Fit Fully Yours, Glamorise, Goddess, Grenier, Hanky Panky, Lejaby, Le Mystere, Marie Jo, Panache, Prima Donna, Simone Perele, Spanx, Triumph, Wacoal, Warner’s &Wonderbra!
Recently the intimates’ line: Fit Fully Yours has developed into a popular brand, which appeals to many women’s needs in fit, style & support. They have now expanded their line to include “Maxine” sizes up to a “J” cup, and beginning at size “30”!! Their first introduction “Smooth Sweetheart” is now available in 11 colours, with a size range so extensive it’s appealing to all women’s sizes. They are always trying to improve and grow the brand. The line has been well received by our customers!
Many of our European manufacturers, such as Prima Donna, Marie Jo, Fantasie, Chantelle & Lejaby are always trying to improve their quality, design & fit offering more & more to the retailers.
Prima Donna “Twist” recently designed a shaper program that slims & flattens, while offering a comfortable and light fabric. Other shapers by Flexee, VaBien, Spanx, & Body Wrap also deserve recognition for innovative fabric & design.
Bra Accessories & Fabric Wash are all very important items that complement our product line. Look for brands from Coconut Grove, Forever New & Soak
Ted: Describe popular styles or trends in your store.
Rhonda and Randi: Some of the more popular styles today include:
Chantelle’ Sexy Shaping T-shirt Bra, is a full coverage lace underwire bra that disappears under clothes and eliminates bra bulge for that flattering, smooth look. This full coverage underwire T-shirt bra targets the underarm and back eliminating “BACK FAT” while the firm, mesh wings prevents back bulge. This is a great bra for full figured and full busted ladies.
Shapers such as Shapeez Ultimate & Tankee designs offers 360 degrees perfection: it shapes, supports, slims & smoothes, eliminating those extra rolls.
Seamless molded non-underwire bras have become a very important commodity because today’s women are demanding comfort as well as fit & fashion. With the population getting mature, there has become an increasingly number of woman looking for bras without wires. Since T-shirt bras have been the trend for many years, it is only recently that brands such as Fit Fully Yours, Vanelle ,Wacoal, & Warners, to name a few, who have jumped on this fashion.
Minimizers will always be important in our boutique! A lot of women really want a minimizer to make their breasts smaller. Chantelles Minimizer “Magnifique” redistributes the breast allowing for a low neckline, seamless silhouette, with a shapely lift. It’s ideal for t-shirts because it minimizes without flattening!
Spacer bras are part of the newer innovations in bra design, because the fabric is light and breathable. The cups spacer fabric fits most shapes, providing a round smooth look. Anita, Chantelle &Prima Donna offer a great selection.
We would be remiss if we did not mention the importance of a T-shirt bra. For a smooth, shapely, nipple friendly, & invisible profile the T-shirt bra does it all! This is probably the most popular designs as it hides what needs to be hidden, while creating the ideal shape. Fit Fully Yours, Vanelle, Marie Jo, Chantelle, Simone Perele, Fantasie, Wacoal, Maidenform & DKNY, are just a few of the brands specializing in the “T-shirt” design.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Rhonda and Randi: Over the past number of years we have noticed a trend in larger size breasts and smaller sized backs. Since women’s shapes and sizes are so diverse, the size range has become so vast. Beginning at size 28 backs, we can satisfy the needs of a petite figure, up to size 56, for a fuller figure. Cup sizes begin at “AA” & currently extend to size “N”.
With such a vast size range, come numerous price points that can range from $30.00 to $200.00, depending upon the brand, design & fabric. Typically the average bra will cost our customer $50-$100.00. We are conscientious of price points so that we do not close the doors on any customer.
Ted: What is your typical or average customer size.
Rhonda and Randi: This is a trick question, as there is no longer an average size! Today’s “DD” were yesterdays “B’s & C’s” Weight loss, weight gain, pregnancy; menopause, etc. affect ones size, and continue to change throughout a women’s lifetime. We are popular with women of all sizes and ages. Our size range can be overwhelming, and with such a vast selection of bras, it’s difficult to determine the typical, average size.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
Rhonda and Randi: The average customer spends approximately $100.00 - $200.00 per visit.
Ted: Describe your customer.
Rhonda and Randi: From Tweens to the Full Figured Women, and all women in between, we draw from a very large customer base since we have both a store front and online boutique. Our customers of 3 generations have been shopping with us for 30 years, so we see the same family of tweens, young adults, mothers, & grandmothers. It is through our exceptional customer service, and referrals that woman of all ages continue to shop in our boutique
Ted: Do you have any other information you wish to share with our readers?
Rhonda and Randi: One of the most important things a woman can do for herself, & her wardrobe is to have properly fitting undergarments. These are the first things a woman puts on in the morning, and the last things taken off at night; yet many women fail to devote the time and money in the right products to make them look their best. We have dedicated ourselves to educating women about, fit, function & comfort. We make buying a bra an “uplifting” experience and a rewarding experience for all concerned!