They say that good things come in small packages and this is true for boutique home hardware stores. Boutiques are small, specialty retail stores that offer unique or niche market products. Because these items are one-of-a-kind pieces, such as hand-painted drawer knobs, they can’t be found at big box stores.
Big box stores — also called superstores, megastores or supercenters — are retailers that are part of a chain. They are 50,000 square feet (1.3 acres) or more and often carry only one category of merchandise. Some well-known big box stores that primarily stock hardware, for example, are Home Depot, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware. These stores are plain and functional and often resemble a huge box.
Big box stores may seem like toy chests filled with endless playthings to fulfill your heart’s every desire. However, boutiques may be the David conquering their Goliath. Here’s why:
Big box stores enlist bulk buyers who attend huge retail shows and gather generic items that will have mass appeal. Don’t be surprised when your oh-so-unique big box kitchen handles, drawer handles and cupboard handlessurface in the homes of three of your friends.
In boutique stores the inventory is selected with thought and care. A boutique has limited retail space, so they put much consideration into what fills it. Many boutiques also offer handcrafted items. After discovering a boutique that you adore, chances are it will be an epic love affair, since the buyer shares your tastes. Additionally, the boutique’s owner is often its buyer, so there is a personal touch involved in product selection.
The main objective of big box companies is stocking their airline hangar-size superstructures to feed their bottom line. They often source foreign-manufactured products, supporting sweatshops in the process. After they sell these items, their revenues boomerang back to remote corporate offices. Customers may save money at a big box, but that money will never be channeled back into their community.
Boutiques, on the other hand, focus upon their community. They have strong personal relationships with their neighborhood customers and deliver one-on-one service. Their inventory consists of novel pieces that make the customer feel as though these items were created just for them. Because boutiques are locally owned and operated their revenues stay in the community.
Big boxes are notorious for their rapid employee turnover. Customers are forever seeing a sea of unfamiliar, anonymous faces, which contributes to an impersonal experience. Big boxes primarily stock and sell goods, rather than provide immersive, personal experiences that forge a connection between buyer and seller.
Human connection abounds at boutiques. Their size, and the constancy of a small staff, encourages strong, personalized attention. Boutique shopkeepers have a deep familiarity with their clientele and are knowledgeable about what each one buys when shopping there. Buyers also stay faithful to the smaller business, where they’re not just viewed as “someone who is going to buy something.” Another bonus: customers get to be around people who share their interests.
Big boxes often enlist what’s called a “planned obsolescence” scheme. This strategy ensures that a current version of a product lacking repair options will break down shortly after its purchase. This predicament gives the customer no alternative but to buy another one to replace it.
Beyond simply moving merchandise, boutiques offer special, additional services, such as repairs and alterations. This hearkens back to the days when a business would not only sell a TV, but have an on-site repairman to fix it.
Here at DoUp we pride ourselves on our boutique aesthetic. All of our kitchen handles, drawer handles, cupboard handles and drawer knobs are handcrafted to provide you with your own special, one-of-a-kind pieces. Retail giants are missing the mark — boutiques are really the ones that are thinking outside the box.