CLARKS SUMMIT – When Bridget Vipond decided in 2016 to follow through on her dream of opening a boutique for women, she was unsure of a name but certain of the store’s inventory, the layout and the way she would wait on customers.
Vipond, 32, had traveled throughout California and insisted her place must resemble many of the shops she had visited in that state.
“I wanted the same feeling of when you’re out there,” she said. “It’s very relaxed and easy and casual, but still cute. I wanted that whole vibe.”
California, the Golden State, also influenced Vipond’s choice of a name for her store: Golden Coast. The shop opened in October 2016 in a storefront at the Talbots retail plaza at the corner of State and West Grove streets.
“Business is awesome. It’s really great,” Vipond said. She recently married and, until a new supply of business cards arrives, has been using the cards imprinted with her maiden name, Brown. Vipond and her husband took their vows during a ceremony in California.
Golden Coast sells clothing, accessories and small gift items. The target market is women in their 20s, 30s or 40s, but Vipond said she has sold items to the very young and elderly customers.
“It just depends on what fits and what works,” she said.
Just before noon last Saturday, a thirtysomething woman approached the sales counter with a top clutched against her chest. “You want to try that on?” Vipond asked. After the woman nodded, the owner directed her to the changing booth. Two girls, probably in their middle teens, looked at a display of earrings from the maker Baublebar.
“They’re super cute,” Vipond said of the earring line. “They’re really fun – kind of trendy, bigger, statement earrings.”
Vipond studied counseling and psychology as an undergraduate, and later earned a master’s degree in education. Her father and one of her brothers are dentists, while the other brother is an attorney. All three professionals share a back-office in Carbondale, and Vipond helped run this operation after she graduated from college.
Multitasking, handling things for the dentists and the attorney, gave Vipond the confidence to open a boutique.
“The timing was right and I thought this location was perfect,” she recalled. “I was ready.”
A sign behind the counter of Golden Coast, in a spot where some businesses may post advisories about the acceptance of personal checks or the return of merchandise, Vipond has displayed a sign which says “GOOD VIBES ONLY.” The sign is in fun, but the owner tries to adhere to its spirit whenever she is with a potential customer.
“It’s so fun. Every day is fun,” Vipond said. “I get to see people. I help people. I talk to people all day. I feel like I’m still using my degree.”
Golden Coast, which occupies a corner location in the same wing of the plaza as the Manning Farm Dairy store, is not a large shop. The merchandise displayed for sale is not cluttered, and Vipond does not have a warehouse. All available stock is in her store.
“I only get six of each item,” Vipond said. “That way, you don’t have the same thing that everybody else has on.”
Prices for tops, including those from Cupcakes and Cashmere, run from $100 to $125. Denims, from Agolde, Citizens of Humanity and Hudson Jeans, range from $128 to $225.
“The denims are a little pricier,” Vipond said, “but they’re awesome.”
The owner said she travels to New York City regularly on buying trips, and is certain her purchasing skills have improved since the store’s opening.
Golden Coast has a website, shopgoldencoast.com, but it only provides information about the store’s hours, location and available brands. Vipond does not have the quantity of merchandise necessary for operating an online store, but she does show new items on Facebook and Instagram. People from all over the country send her direct messages to see if an item is available in their size.
“I ship to Texas, San Francisco, New York, New Jersey,” Vipond said. “I don’t know how business owners did it before social media.”
As important as online sales are to Golden Coast – Vipond said more than 10 percent of revenues are generated by shipments made to customers outside the area – the owner believes there will always be a demand for a boutique that maintains a physical location.
“In a smaller store, you get a helper, a stylist, to help you shop so you’re not shopping on your own,” Vipond said. “You get someone to tell you if it fits, and if it works.”
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