Spool of Dreams in Cartersville
Most fashion fanatics have an idea of what they may think looks good on them after staring at picture-perfect models scattered amongst our social media feeds day after day. Many tend to find themselves shopping directly from the looks of the Instagram influencers they follow, ordering this dress and those shoes, all while randomly guessing at which size to order. Sometimes, online shoppers are disappointed when they arrive.
This season’s new colors, fabrics and that posh new pair of pumps may look perfect on a laptop but may not suite the wearer once they have opened up that shiny new package sitting outside of the front door.
The substandard cycle of online shopping begins again.
With shopping malls becoming the retail dinosaurs of the not-so-distant past, Amazon and other online sites have become the new go-to’s when consumers realize they need a new pair of pants or a new blouse to go with that skirt that fits just perfectly.
While online shopping may be the most convenient of all shopping methods, when ladies are struggling to return that beautiful dress that barely zipped up the back and showed all of their goodies, they often wish they had found a boutique or clothing store that is local and actually tried on the garment.
Many of the boutiques and specialty clothing stores here in Rome and Bartow County realize this and dedicate their life’s work to making sure you look your absolute best.
“An obvious fact is that the internet is sort of a one-dimensional approach to shopping,” explains Hal Richards, owner of The Lodge (210 East 2nd Ave Suite 106, Rome). “On the contrary, if you approach a store where someone has made it their life’s direction to helping others in this way, you have got to appreciate that they will know more about it, and can guide you and direct you into the style you are truly looking for.”
Personalized customer service can make or break a clothing store, whether that boutique is online or not. As Mimi Weed from mel & mimi (203 E 8th Street SW, Rome) candidly puts it, “You don’t get one-on-one customer service online. The end.” Weed owns the boutique with her business partner Melanie Morris.
The one-on-one personalized customer service essentially helps to give shoppers the feeling of complete comfort. With the help of a professional, they know they will walk out with exactly what they visited for.
How many of us can say we make use of that luxury every time we go out (or stay in) to shop?
As Morris and Weed are busy helping customers find jewelry for a dance, it is hard not to notice how involved they are in the entire process. The owners of this popular boutique act as if they have been friends for years. You can tell that their customers are their number one priority.
“Building a relationship with a customer is important to us. Just like the last customer that we had in the store. Not only do we know her, but we have developed a relationship with her daughter, her daughter’s daughter and now her great grandsons,” smiles Morris. “We work really hard to develop that connection here, and you most definitely can’t get that online.”
The other great thing about searching out the best places for personalized customer service is that you, our treasured readers, are centrally located to boutiques that hang their hat on their level of customer service.
At The Lodge, Richards searches out the most unique things to offer his clients. With around 25 unique lifestyle brands like Peter Millar, Joe’s Jeans, Barbour and Alan Payne, gentlemen are sure to find the perfect additions to their wardrobes. Richards also offers a Made to Measure service, which is a tailoring service using a physical pattern made from your measurements and a garment is cut accordingly.
“I have a great tailor who I have had a relationship with for years, and we work together to dial in on our customers’ wants and needs,” explains Richards. “But honestly, it comes down to a customer needing a top and a bottom. It’s as simple as that. Is it a solid, a plaid or a check? So, it is wise to keep a variety on hand.”
According to Richards, when you find a store that has enough variety, you tend to develop a relationship with that person and it becomes very easy to get the shopping done. Searching through pages online can sometimes take more time than visiting a clothing store with you in mind when they purchase their goods.
“I have customers who have shopped with me for years, and I will go to Market with them in mind,” adds Richards.
It’s this type of care and attention that makes shopping in-store much more dependable.
“One of the things I am very particular about is customer service,” says Jody Brandon, owner of Woodford Clothing (13 East Third Avenue, Rome). “We go to the ends to take care of all of our customer’s needs with pleasure. Whatever you need, we are here.
“In fact, a gentleman here in town was getting ready to go to Europe on a trip and at the last minute, he noticed that he needed a tuxedo shirt. We were able to get it shipped overnight and delivered to him before he left the next day,” continues Brandon. “We want all of our customers here in Rome and surrounding counties to experience that kind of service.”
Brooke Nolan, owner of Snazzy Rags Boutique (419 Broad Street, Rome) always makes sure to let her customers know they are the priority when they walk through her doors. They also offer exclusive and unique pieces for women who are in search of different styles.
“Everything we do is to please our customers, and that is the way we’ve built this business to where it is today,” smiles Nolan.
“The items we have here are unique,” adds Molly Oakes, sales associate at Snazzy Rags. “Everyone in the world can go online and shop on Amazon, but not everyone can come to Rome, Georgia and shop at our store. There are times where we only carry six of one item, and when those six are out, they’re gone. Those people who snagged one of those six items are lucky because they essentially have a unique item that no one else except those five other people who had the chance to buy.”
Aly Phipps, owner of the Spool of Dreams (15 East Main Street, Cartersville) agrees wholeheartedly. What she offers at Spool of Dreams is a “personalized, all hands-on deck care experience, and we do that to create a more personalized shopping experience.”
Perhaps the one thing that most of the boutiques and specialty clothing stores have in common (besides a focus on customer service) is how they feel about the use of social media and the internet to purchase clothes easily.
“I get it. It’s convenient to pull out your phone and search for a gift that is delivered straight to your door. However, if you are trying to find a fit that works for you, or a gift for someone it is always best to come into the store,” says Nolan from Snazzy Rags.
One way specialty boutiques work to change this culture is by getting to know their inventory, as Richards mentioned earlier.
“When you come to our boutique, we are supposed to be able to guide you in the right direction and have knowledge of our inventory so that we can say, ‘this garment runs large’ and so on,” explains Weed. “We regularly have customers come in and say, ‘Well, I ordered three dresses online, but I decided to come here because they didn’t work.’ And that is so common.”
Supporting local businesses is also a key component in utilizing in-store products instead of browsing online at other stores that may or may not be benefitting from our hard-earn cash.
“Have I ordered something online? Yes. But is that my go-to? No.” says Weed.
“We always ask ourselves is there anywhere in Rome that we can get what we are looking for?’ Even outside of mel & mimi, we try to be mindful of other boutiques and stores because we would rather support Rome and our community here,” explains Morris.
According to mel & mimi, if you don’t support it, more can’t come. And that is true. “I’m a Rome girl, I have been here my entire life,” says Weed. “I have watched it grow and watched it go from a few local shops to a bustling little town. If you want more here, you have to get out and support your community.”
Through supporting our community and enjoying the personalized customer service, shopping in-store is already looking more appealing than shopping online. So, as the seasons change and you begin to realize those shorts from last year aren’t your style anymore, take a trip to mel & mimi, Snazzy Rags, The Lodge, Woodford Clothing or Spool of Dreams in Cartersville, along with the plethora of other boutiques in both downtown areas and see if you can find something fit for you.
At the least, you won’t have to go through the million hoops to return an online purchase gone wrong.
And trust us, that is worth a million bucks.