Seeking the unique
Boutique operators cater to homeowners' desire for individuality
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Saturday, Oct 26, 2013 06:00 am
When visiting someone’s home, it’s the little things you really notice – an elaborate painting, a colourful vase, that coffee cup with the animal design.
Those individual pieces don’t always come from a high-volume store but are often sold at smaller venues, such as local artisan fairs or the kind of boutique shop owned by Camille Boyd.
Boyd opened Trendy Home in downtown St. Albert last year because she sensed the community lacked a store for personalized decorations and hand-made accessories.
“I just thought there was a market in St. Albert for home accessories, artwork or wallpaper, that didn’t exist,” said Boyd. “We really try to fill a small boutique niche. We offer things that nobody else has and we offer better service.”
Boyd said she mostly serves professional women in their mid-30s to late-50s, people who want to decorate their homes with items no one else has.
That means she has to go a bit out of her way to get accessories, visiting trade shows in Las Vegas and Montreal, and buying pieces from Canadian artists as far away as Prince Edward Island.
“(Customers) want Canadian made, they want it North American made, they are looking for a specific product and basically we try to find what they are looking for,” she said.
Besides small accessories – such as coffee mugs, candles or Christmas décor – Trendy Home offers a wide selection of artwork, wallpapers, throws, pillows and even small pieces of furniture.
The wallpaper, for example, is delivered from Europe. A single roll – often made from velour or vinyl – can cost anywhere between $50 and $175. While that’s easily double, triple or quadruple the price of wallpaper found at regular stores, the design and quality is something you won’t find in North America, Boyd said.
“They are much thicker and they are very easy to remove and that is what makes this so special,” she said. “I think people are tired of going to big box stores and finding that there is no help and that the quality they are looking for doesn’t exist.”
That desire for quality and individuality is also what interior decorator Lori Drinkwater has noticed since starting her St. Albert-based business Fresh Look Design in 2004.
People want a new look to their apartment or house, and often accentuate their home with new artwork, wallpaper or accessories. And they don’t want their living room to look like everyone else’s, Drinkwater said.
In the future, she expects that accessory stores such as Boyd’s will continue to grow in popularity, even as more big box stores move into the market.
And while even that segment of the market follows certain trends – this year greys and emerald greens were in high demand – the difference is in the personalized service, and higher quality.
“It’s so impersonal in the big box stores,” she said. “And that’s the thing I say about my business, that I offer such a personalized service and people are looking for that.”