Boutique Wise Currency

Shopping District in Hampden

When Pam Haner, one of the creators of the first Baltimore Fashion Week, goes shopping for a new piece in her wardrobe, she always finds herself shopping locally at thrift stores and boutiques.

Whether it’s at Lexington Market to pick up big knocker earrings or it’s at a Randallstown’s hair shop to pick up a butterfly shaped ring, Haner likes having uncommon pieces that you can’t find at a big chain store.

“If you can afford to go to Target to buy a dress or afford to go to the mall to buy a dress, you should be going to places like Katwalk, Doll House, Cult, Shine, and Doubledutch. There are so many affordable local places.”

In the last couple of years, there have been many clothing boutiques popping up around Baltimore in Federal Hill, Hampden, and Harbor East.

At the same time, boutiques have closed like Flipside Footwear or moved like Diece Boutique because they aren’t enough people buying locally and supporting Charm City clothing boutiques.

Catherine Koch, the manager of Urban Chic in Baltimore’s newest shopping distinct of Harbor East, believes Baltimoreans are making the effort to shop in boutiques near home.

“I think its important to shop locally because you are supporting your neighborhood and helping the businesses get through the tough economic time,” Koch said. “We have been getting a lot of support from our client base. Everyone wants the stores around them to succeed.”

The economic recession is still here, but there are businesses in Baltimore that are succeeding.

Blondell Howard, the owner of The Sassy Sewer, has been running her sewing lounge in Baltimore since December 2007. Howard made the transition from a corporate worker to a small business entrepreneur.

“Lots of people like me that were in corporate America are now feeling the need to reinvent themselves,” Howard said. “Being a small business is the best decision I have ever made. In corporate America, you got the president you never see unless they got a new TV show where he comes in undercover. With a small business, your needs are meant and you establish a relationship with the people.”

Local businesses are always competing with corporate businesses. Owners have to understand their customers and discover the best ways to communicate with their customers.

Christine Carter, the owner of the retail firm, Epps Consulting, created her firm in order to promote local businesses like Whimsy and Holly G Boutique to Charm City fashionistas.

“I created a retail marketing and public relations firm because I love local businesses and I really love to shop,” Carter said. “I also love the operations that keep the retail industry running, from the merchandisers to the loss prevention team. I’m also in awe of the way retail products can affect a consumer and how retail marketing can affect their buying habits.”

Carter is organizing the first Baltimore Retail Week that will take place from April 16 to April 25 providing tax-free shopping and discounts to encourage people in Baltimore to shop locally instead of shopping at big name companies.

Another event that helps to support local businesses is Fest of All event. Jess Seebold, the executive director of Federal Hill Main Street, believes the neighborhood event showcases Federal Hill as a commercial district.

“We started it as a way to draw attention to the products and services that are available here,” Seebold said. “The proceeds go to Federal Hill Main Street Main Street and from there they go to the businesses for promotion, advertising and other things. We raised about 20,000 dollars this year.”

With events like Fest of All and Baltimore Retail Week, Baltimoreans are becoming more influenced to shop in their neighborhood.

Shopping locally keeps the city of Baltimore booming because the money goes back to the community we live in and creates jobs for people in this city.

“I think it’s extremely important to support local businesses because Baltimore is in a good place right now and local places are still king here,” Haner said. “You know nobody goes to Friday’s to get drinks in the city. If we could do that for the local shops then, people will start to go local boutiques to shop and not chain stores.”

Read more from Ms. Charm’s Chic