We are saying "Fare thee well", as of June 29, 2013 as the physical shop you've come to love in Roslindale Village.
When I opened Minerva's Owl as a boutique in a bricks and mortar storefront in the Roslindale Village area of Boston, I had such high hopes. I very much wanted to open up a community store, where women of like tastes and aesthetics could find wonderful clothing to wear, gifts to buy and a place to come in to decompress. I guess I thought the people in that area, in settling into this "village", would shop it and appreciate it for what it had to offer. It already had some fine food venues and bakeries, many ethnic food shops and the start of an excellent retail district: a home and garden store, a nice florist, an NYC-esque gift shop and a children's shop. The year I moved in was also the beginnings of another women's clothing shop (for a little bit younger women) and a fabulous artisans cooperative. Things really looked promising! I thought that like Portland, Oregon people longed for the small shop again and a downtown village setting in which to satisfy all of your shopping needs. I wanted to be a part of that, so in all good faith and very optimistically, I set up my shop, Minerva's Owl.
One year went by, and although the economy was in a pretty bad state, we seemed to hold our own. We did everything within our power to draw people in. Beyond the grand opening ribbon cutting celebration with Mayor Menino, events were a constant and the first year we had an Irish Folk Band (2x), a string quartet, a flute player, a live owl show (two times), a woman vocalist who specialized in Victorian parlour songs, a DJ and several trunk shows. We participated in Girl's Night Out, customer appreciation day, a celebration of our first anniversary, a sidewalk sale, and Small Business Saturday! Phew, a lot to put on for just a simple shop in a small section of Boston! All this on top of the regular day to day operations; buying, unpacking, evaluating, display...
Our second year was much of the same sort of thing, only this year on top of the folk groups, DJ, special discounts and wine and cheeses give-aways and even a tribal dance troupe who performed a Winter Solstice event-we also held two special womens' networking events drawing upwards of 25 women for the first event and 40 women for the second event! My second year I also became more faithful at blogging, enacting constant contact email blasts and displaying posts on facebook. I took on more terrific consignors, started offering some select vintage and searched out fun and funky American made clothing that appealed to the woman who wanted to dress differently! I contracted with somebody to help me merchandise better and even gained some recognition on Yelp, the Boston A-List and the Improper Bostonian. Goodness, with all that activity, you'd think I'd be a household word!
But sadly, that is not what has happened! Coupled with a still lousy economy and extremely disruptive weather and world events, people in the village seem to bypass our store. We have certainly built up our "possee" of woman who love what we have to offer and have repeatedly come, but the average day to day foot traffic that might reasonably be expected is severely lacking! Maybe there are too many DIY-ers out there making their own items or maybe the lure of the internet, Etsy and cheap shopping venues like Amazon and Zappos are too much for people to stick to their guns and "shop small", but nevertheless, something out there is bringing about the demise of main street.
On top of our imminent closing of the bricks and mortar shop (and subsequent rethinking as to how to stay in the retail game) there have been other closings. Those exiting included Sarida, Colorwheel and Rialto Caf� in Roslindale; Caf� Society, Got Shoes skate shop and Millipede in JP, The Hyde restaurant in Hyde Park and GC Skate Shop and Lisa's Bridal shop in West Roxbury. All fabulous stores! So many closings in one year speaks of more of a trend than just a fluke or a misstep. Retail venues in these small villages of Boston seem to be dying on the vine, even when the vine is healthy and vibrant and promising! Something is wrong here. I have given my all to this business! I have owned other businesses all through my life, and none of them have required the care and feeding that this one has! With my most successful venture, the adult day care center, whenever things got a little slow, I would just step up the marketing visits and voila, two weeks later I'd see results! This is NOT what happens with the boutique. If you feed and water a plant, love it and care for it-it grows, unless of course there is something wrong with the environment. So that just has to be the conclusion for us, as we have loved, fed, watered and cherished our store! And you have too!
I know many people will be shocked and sad to hear of our closing. Any business worth its salt is never going to tell you if it's in trouble. I have tried to project a freshness of merchandise and attitude, every step of the way. I have taught women about how to wear clothes well and introduced new products to them! I have been told time and again about how super my little shop is! But there comes a time that no matter how much you love your idea and what you have built up, you need to cast real business-like parameters upon it to determine if it can go on. I am an entrepreneur and as such, my idea has to yield promising trends, at least by the second year. I'm not seeing a positive trend now and I don't really see it happening in year three.
So this is my farewell to all my faithful fans. The doors will be closed (as of June 30th) and in the next two weeks following that I will be packing up everything. As a gesture of thanks, I am offering to my mailing list/FB customers a closed door sale of 40% off of almost everything. Some things may only be discounted at 20% and other may not be discounted at all, as I have other plans for them. If you are not a regular customer but are on the mailing list, please bring this email in with you, as this is a closed door sale, not open to the larger public. Please come to the store between July 1st through 12th and take a peek at what is not already packed. You should probably call first as I may be in and out with so much to do! Please check our Facebook page for news of where we end up, or how we aim to accomplish our retail mission! I'm toying with on-line shops, home trunk shows, outdoor markets. I don't think I'm quite done yet!
Thank you, thank you to all who have been our strongest supporters! We love you and will miss you!
Julie and Frank
(617)763-5441 will be our contact number following July 12, 2013