Supermarket Streetboutiquesby Jeff Carvalho
Thinking about this…
Before the super/hypermarket boom of the last 25-30 years, local farmer’s markets were found in just about every major town and city in the United States. Fundamental change occurred post-war (WW2/Korea) in how Americans chose to shop; did one want to spend half a day traveling from the grocer, to the butcher, to the flower shop, or was it simply easier to reduce the number of visits down to one building? Did the reduction is travel (lets call it laziness) push quality and choice in product to the back of the bus over convenience and triple coupon days?
Of course, today is obvious that people have begun to re-think what and where they spend their money on local produce. Farmers markets are back strong (PBS has even done a docu called “Market to Market” on the topic) reminding people that “super” is not always “Super.”
I bring this up as I wonder if this same scenario is playing out with the street fashions of the world. The big box stores are now starting to rethink what lines they carry and looking to the smaller players offering up wares as an alternative to the large volume lines they carry. Big volume lines are simultaneously “borrowing” from these smaller lines and re-selling it to the big boxes as “fresh and cutting edge.” While the “borrowers market” will always happen in fashion, this shift in thinking has helped revive the boutique wares market in the USA. A renaissance? Probably not, but a return to supporting the local non-chain retailers.
Where Europe, Tokyo, LA, and NYC have continued to grow over the last 20 years in boutique wares, it is only in the last 2-3 years that shops have begun to popup in small towns across middle America and beyond.
Note: I am not talking about skate/active sports shops that have helped solidify street wear over the past decades. I am very much talking about brand new small shops popping off in places like Missouri that cater to those consumers who do not relate, rather, do not want to spend their hard earned cash at malls, to only mimic every other shopper in his/her hometown.
Like the farmer’s markets, small boutique are helping to support small retailers locally and that can only be good for everyone in town.