Q&A with Cristy Beckman, owner
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store for our readers.
Cristy Beckman: Buttercups is strategically located in a busy shopping center in Middletown, which is Delaware’s fastest growing town. Families are moving here from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland to reap the benefits of new housing, low property taxes, and no sales tax on anything. Family members can easily commute to larger cities for work, and then return for a small town feel. In addition to a grocery store, a liquor store, and a party store in our shopping center, I am right next door to a Saladworks and close to a Tutoring Center, Pretzel Boys, Starbucks and a Nutrition Center…all great attractions for women! An added bonus to our location is that my storefront gets sun all day long, which helps emphasize the cheerful, bright interior I envisioned. The concept for our store started with the design of our logo that contains a custom illustration of two beautiful buttercups above the word Buttercups in a classy blue. It is perfect! We integrated the brand throughout the boutique by painting the walls yellow with the exception of two cobalt blue accent walls. One of these blue walls was hand stenciled by a local artisan in a striking damask print and is the perfect backdrop for our logo and sales counter. We found the beautiful ivory furniture at a charming store at one of Delaware’s beaches. We even carried our color story to all the fabrics selected for the dressing rooms and for an oversized ottoman in the center of the store, which happens to be a favorite place for customers to relax. Lighting in the shop is mainly from chandeliers including one beautiful blue chandelier in the center with handmade fabric shades. The boutique is exactly how I dreamed it would be!
Buttercups is proud to offer beautiful, well-constructed bras from a number of popular brands. Additionally, we stock super soft loungewear, cup-sized swimwear and sexy evening wear. All items are available in every woman’s size.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Cristy: Before opening Buttercups, I had a career in hospitality sales. I worked for a global hotel company and one of my responsibilities was to develop relationships with our customers at every level. I have implemented many of the same techniques at Buttercups. When a customer enters our front door, we go to them to greet them with a smile and welcome them to our store. We accompany our customers to an item and help them find their size, instead of merely pointing to it. We offer assistance in the fitting rooms as needed, and listen patiently as customers tell us about their experiences and what they are looking for today.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Cristy: When selecting merchandise for my boutique, I gravitate towards sturdy construction, beautiful yet comfortable fabrics, and nicely fitted pieces. I like to offer relevant pieces, as well. For example, the long bra is a relatively new piece and some have not seen it before coming into our store. I really enjoy bringing new fashion ideas to my town. At Buttercups, a lot of our customers are experiencing a well-constructed bra for the first time, and generally tend to buy nude colors. When they return they will explore the colors and patterns. This spring our Jane & Bleecker loungewear has been doing really well. The soft fabrics and comfortable look are perfect for the beach or poolside at home. Loungewear will always be a big seller, as well as Hanky Panky and a few “after midnight” items like chemises and corsets. It is so much fun to help our customers enjoy their shopping experience.
Anita has been our bestselling brand since we opened. My sales representative Joyce Rylander, came to my store before we opened and sat down with me to review her catalogs. Joyce knows that the more I understand about her products as a retailer, the better I will be at selling them. As a result of this, by the end of this summer Buttercups will offer all aspects of Anita including fashion, sports, maternity, mastectomy, and comfort. We also offer cup-sized swimwear, bridal pieces (Betsey Johnson), first bras for young girls (Royce), and lots of loungewear (Jane & Bleecker and Carol Hochman)! Months before I opened my doors, I traveled to NYC to meet several leaders in the lingerie industry. I wanted to see their designs, feel their fabrics first hand and establish relationships with their sales reps. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all the exciting lingerie that would be launched later this year. One of the main goals for Buttercups is to carry plus sizes so that women can come to my boutique and walk out with something that day. To my disappointment, not all of the sales representatives that I met embraced the plus-sized market and simply didn’t carry it, or didn’t feel it was as important as I do. I want every woman to be able to feel and look beautiful in the skin she is in.
I made a second trip to NYC to attend CURVE. As a small boutique preparing to open its doors, I needed to order lots of items to fill out my inventory. Unfortunately, I was told that the sales rep of several of the brands that I wanted to order was too busy with larger accounts and I was turned away. Thankfully, I was able to place orders from several other brands and I happily sell their products today while enjoying excellent customer service from their sales reps. I believe things have a way of working out if you are able to learn from your experiences and are determined to succeed.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Cristy: We sell lace toppers from $14 and bras from $56-$98. We offer baby dolls from $72-$99 and bathing suits up to $110. We carry XS – XXL, A cup – I cup, and bands up to 50.
Each of one of our customers is an individual person, with their own beautiful body, no matter how small or how large. Some come with curves, some come with none, but you’ll find when you treat everyone with the same care and respect, they will be customers forever.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit?
Cristy: The average customers spends about $90-$140 per visit.
Ted: Describe your customer.
Cristy: Our customers are 98% female. We do have a few husbands that venture in to make purchases for their partners, and we all remark how sexy that is! Our female audience ranges from 11-80 in age. Buying a girl her first bra is a lot of fun, and this is a much nicer environment than some of the typical options. I have noticed a lot of women in their mid 40s bringing in their mothers to have their breasts lifted, and the daughters end up in a new bra as well.