Just ask Ricki Peltzman.
Ricki is the owner of the Washington D.C. based boutique, Upstairs on 7th.
No, it isn't located on 7th street nor is it upstairs. While the name may not make sense to most, it does to Ricki's loyal following of clientele.
The boutique was founded 11 years ago in a small space, upstairs, on 7th St NW. It's since moved around the block a few times but the name remains.
How did we find it?
During a recent meeting with a client, she casually mentioned a conversation with a friend who attended an event there. While in the midst of research for a large scale retail project, we decided to google it and found ourselves intrigued...the website was nothing to get excited about but the concept was certainly unique...but how does something so small stay alive if giant retailers like Macy's, Lord & Taylor, and J.Crew struggle to stay afloat?
So I pick up the phone, dial the store, snag Ricki, and ask for an interview. She graciously agrees and we plan our visit.
Monday afternoon my client and I headed to Upstairs on 7th which is located at: 1299 Pennsylvania Ave NW.
We park and begin wandering around the streets...no sign of the store but the GPS says we are here...
We walk into a government building and across the lobby see women's clothing. Presto, we have arrived.
We peruse the unique offerings while Ricki helps one of her loyal customers who is shopping for his wife. After he departs, we are able to introduce ourselves and dig in.
How does your boutique survive in this retail environment?
"Well, 7000 businesses are now out of business. It's a very scary retail environment but we are busy because everyone else has left. Low rent is absolutely the key to success and I've been very fortunate in finding the right spaces at the best prices."
How do you advertise?
"I do one email newsletter a week. I discuss everything. Restaurants, politics, events. I also hold a lot of events in the store which are really great. We recently had Robin Givhan here which was fun."
We noticed your website leaves a lot to be desired. Any reason why you haven't added more inventory to it?
"Selling online is a completely different business and I do not want to compete with my vendors. I enjoy doing business the way we do it, it's very personal this way and it's a lot more fun."
What is your average clients age?
What makes Upstairs on 7th different?
"If you want to look different, this is the place to go. I don't want to be all things, to all people."
So you are like the Politics and Prose of clothing?
"YES! Exactly like that! I also don't let people walk out of here with items that don't look good on them. I have under 20 returns a year. 2017 has also been the biggest year we've ever had."
Ricki is the perfect advertisement for her brand.
She is decked out in items you can find on the shelves (most items are $350+) and if you were to spot her on the street, her style stands out. It's becoming obvious that the reason Ricki has done so well is because she is someone women can aspire to live like. She is a straight shooter, honest and warm, and she makes shopping FUN for her clients.
In today's retail climate, this is how you win.
Make shopping personal, don't offer the same items as everyone else, find a low rent space, be someone others aspire to be like, and keep it simple.
Sounds simple, right?
For more on Ricki and Upstairs on 7th, visit www.upstairson7th.com