“It was one percent intuition and ninety-nine percent luck, ” admits Vive La Femme owner Stephanie Sack, about her decision to lower the prices at her boutique about eighteen months ago. But that flash of inspiration seems to be paying off for the effervescent Sack and her six-year-old boutique that caters to size twelve-to-twenty-four women. Sack, a veteran of the Chicago style scene and of Bucktown boutique row, says her fellow store owners are playing it close to the vest about how they are faring. But when the recession was just a nascent blip in the minds of central bankers everywhere, Sack lowered her prices from the $325-$65 range to $175-$35 range and that seems to have made all the difference.
“People are excited to find the prices lower, and I have no intention of raising them when this is over,” confides Sack.
There are a few industries that don’t suffer during recessions, but retail fashion usually isn’t one of them. Sack revealed that she has had to drop a few vendors, and push a little harder to get deals and to find items that represent the “Vive” look without going outside of her new pricing structure. And what is the “Vive” look? Sack explains that, “It might not be on trend, but it is always on style.”
Sack says people are still shopping, but they are being more careful. Instead of walking out with five or six items, they buy maybe one or two. And of those one or two items, it’s important to get more “style mileage” out of them. To that end, Sack is looking at classic, well-made items with the signature Vive La Femme pop. That would mean more black dresses, paired with different shoes and accessories for different looks, more chic sweaters to brave the Chicago winter, and more denim all around. Sack recommends classic, good quality pieces for every woman’s wardrobe, but pieces that have a lot of that style mileage.
The spring will bring warmer weather for sure, possibly a relief from some of the worst economic hardships, and Sack is curious to see what happens, but not really concerned. Sack promises, “If this is the nuclear winter of the economy, I’m going to sell mittens.” (Beth Dugan)
Vive La Femme, 2048 North Damen, (773)772-7429, vivelafemme.com