Candice Dow already had 20 years of experience in retail fashion before she opened Fashion Sense Boutique, in September 2018. But it was more than just the day-to-day management experience she had gained over that time – even more important were the relationships she had developed with customers, who showed amazing support for her new venture, she says. “I feel that it is imperative to cultivate those personal relationships, especially with a small, independent business – you can’t rely on the history or name recognition of a chain store. Genuine and reliable customer service is of the utmost importance.”
Fashion Sense Boutique, at 120 3rd Ave West in downtown Drumheller, offers stylish, quality clothing at affordable prices. Candice sells to a wide demographic, from teenagers to ladies in their eighties. That kind of broad appeal is necessary for a retailer in a small market like Drumheller. At the same time as she sees customer relationships as a cornerstone of Fashion Sense Boutique, Candice sees the impact that technology is having on retail, and the dramatic increase in online shopping with the Covid-19 pandemic. This led her to expand her business to include an on-line store to remain competitive.
Building the online store was a huge undertaking with a steep learning curve, but she had help: through the ShopHere program, she had support, advice and training from a student/consultant. In Drumheller, ShopHere was sponsored by Community Futures Big Country and coordinated by Community Futures Entre-Corp in Medicine Hat. The result, fashionsenseboutique.ca, is easily navigated, looks beautiful, and provides 24-7 access for browsing and shopping. “As a small, independent boutique I am a small fish in the very large ocean of online stores, but with time I hope my reach will expand beyond our region,” Candice says.