Boutique aims to bring nearly 30 vendors under 1 roof. It opens next week in Allentown.
A new boutique with a mission to help other area small businesses grow is opening next week at downtown Allentown’s ArtsWalk.
A Little Bit of Local,27 N. Seventh St., is set to open Tuesday in space that previously occupied Radish Republic. The urban grocer that specialized in goods sourced from area farms shuttered last month with owners then declining to provide specifics to a lehighvalleylive.com reporter about the decision.
A Little Bit of Local owner LeeAnn Bower of Whitehallenvisions filling the 1,786-square-foot space with the wares of vendors already familiar to the Lehigh Valley. To date, nearly 30 have signed on to help launch the boutique, selling everything from handmade soaps and candles to jewelry, spices and clothing items. Business owners either price their items wholesale or via a consignment contract with Bower.
The space also serves as an opportunity to sell items from Bower’s own “Stitched Simply Sweet” line, which has already seen online sales booming.
“I knew I always wanted to open my own store but I feared I couldn’t make enough inventory to fill it, and I also wanted a variety of things,” Bower told lehighvalleylive.com.
Additionally, Bower is a fan of craft fairs and area festivals but said not every vendor sells online. She’s spent countless hours trying to track down a crafter at an event or by phone just to place an order.
“With having everything under one roof in a boutique-style set up, people will be able to shop some of their favorite crafters and vendors year-round in one location and have easy access to communicate with them,” Bower said.
Bower’s goal is to display multiple items throughout the boutique and have the pieces intermixed with others, showing the versatility of all products. Think a smorgasbord of the Lehigh Valley’s local favorites, she said.
A stitch and a fix
Stitched Simply Sweet initially began as a side hobby for Bower, who has a background in pediatric occupational therapy. The Lenhartsville, Berks County native moved to the Lehigh Valley in 2012 to pursue various positions in the medical field.
It came about when she began sewing blankets for her two sons. Her eldest child, diagnosed with autism, used the deep pressure from the blankets as a calming mechanism and her youngest enjoyed them as a soother at bedtime.
What began as a small online business on Etsy, an e-commerce company focused on handmade and vintage items, quickly sprung into a full-fledged operation four years later. Bower found herself growing the business to include wine cork crafts, burp cloths, hair bows and headbands, as well as embroidered towels. She expanded her reach, selling at area craft shows and hosting a pop-up store at the Downtown Allentown Market. The same market now sits across from the new boutique.
In a busy month, Bower could sell upward of 50 items. She was quickly outgrowing her downstairs work room. And sales were continuing to climb.
A Little Bit of Local will now allow Bower a larger work space and the ability to work one-on-one with patrons. She plans to also fulfill special requests onsite, and so will the other vendors. A couple part-time employees plan to be hired to assist on the sales floor.
Small business entrepreneurship has been in Bower’s blood since she was a child. Her parents, Ann Swan and the late Ward Swan, are the former owners of Yester Year, an antique shop in Lenhartsville.
“I saw first-hand how important small businesses are to not only the community, but to the families that run them,” Bower said. “Because of that, I’ve always tried to shop small and local when I can.”
Shoppers ahead of the holiday season will have an opportunity to meet the various vendors in a series of workshops at the boutique.
Bower envisions such events as “Make Your Own Wreaths” and “Ornament Decorating.” There’ll also be painting parties and private events.
For Stitched Simply Sweet, Bower expects even more growth once the boutique opens. She plans to add tote bags and handcrafted home decor items to her mix of creations.
“I am hoping that my shop will give people the opportunity to support many small businesses and families at one time and find products that they love and can consistently purchase,” Bower said.
Hours are pending, but Bower expects to be open seven days a week and extended hours for evening events. Interested vendors can contact Bower on the boutique’s website here.
Some of the vendors who’ve signed up to sell at A Little Bit of Local include:
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Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at [email protected]