In this issue we feature nine boutiques that have gone the distance, thriving for 50 (or in some cases many more!) years in bridal.
   Their inspiring stories and advice for generational success can be found on pg. 50, which are definitely worth reading. But of course, these aren’t the only long-standing boutiques we interact with. Daily, we talk to boutique owners who have been in business for multiple decades (our profile this month, Unique Bridal, celebrated 40 years in 2023)! In the interest of identifying factors they have in common, I’ve put together this list:

1)The owner is heavily involved. The exact role they play varies, but the bottom line is that owners of successful stores are a consistent and involved presence in the physical boutique. Not only does this allow them to stay up-to-date on everything going on and nip potential problems in the bud, but it helps brides get to know them and strengthens the overall brand.

2)They take care of their staff. These owners understand their stylists are the heart and soul of their business and that by taking care of them – financially through fair compensation and other perks; professionally through opportunities for training and advancement; and emotionally as people - they will give their all.

3)There is passion. This passion could be for many specific things - bridal fashion, running a small business or helping others are some common ones – but the bottom line is they’re doing something that truly makes them happy each day.

4)They own their buildings. This one isn’t an absolute, but many long-standing boutiques purchase their spaces instead of rent them. A good percentage pay them off relatively quickly, giving them extra stability during shaky economic times.

5)They aren’t afraid to pivot. They keep their finger on the pulse of trends and issues and don’t hesitate to make changes when needed.

6)They’re continuously learning. And there isn’t one specific way they’re doing it, either. Rather, they consistently draw knowledge from a variety of sources: podcasts, books, magazines, YouTube videos, seminars, other owners, industry groups, events, etc.

7)They put their unique spin on things. Many of the most successful stores have really strong brands, which help them stand out from the rest. They’re typically known for something specific and they play that up. What this specific niche is varies, but bottom line: they aren’t trying to be everything to everyone. Rather, they’ve figured out what they do best and they do their best at it.