|SPRINGFIELD In March, men's retailer Jackson & Connor of Northampton entered into their third year of operation. |
Citing innovative promotions, building a business that filled a gap in the local retail market and dogged determination to make it all work, owners Tara Tetreault Brewster and Candice Connors raised a glass to toast their success this week.
Located on the second floor of Thornes Marketplace, the venerable downtown retail space and landmark, Tetreault Brewster and Connors created their retail space that has the atmosphere of a men's club with rich dark painted walls and heavy wood furniture in March of 2008. The 1,100 square-foot store features casual and tailored men's clothing and a large selection of accessories, tailoring and a personal shopping service.
"Call us what you want," Tetreault Brewster said. "Entrepreneurs. Small business owners. Local business owners. Employees. Crazy. Candice and I have lived up to all those labels while we've built this business and usually all at the same time."
Tetreault Brewster and Connors curated the fashion in their store by featuring certain designers that they knew from their years of experience working for other stores would work well in the Northampton market.
When they opened, long-time men's store Yale Genton of West Springfield had just closed its doors and many of the men's clothing stores on Main Streets across the region had long since faded away. With knowledge of that opening in the market the two friends set about creating their business plan.
Their idea for the store was centered around the concept that it would serve two areas of men's fashion. The "Jackson" look would be for men who follow fashion trends and are looking for clothing not readily available in Western Massachusetts. The lines targeted for the "Connor" man would highlight traditional tailoring and classic looks that are the staples of most professional men's wardrobes while still looking modern.
Tetreault Brewster and Connors curated the fashion in their store by featuring certain designers that they knew from their years of experience working for other stores would work well in the Northampton market. In addition to those tried and true lines, they sought out a host of young local and national designers who were just emerging and would be all new to this particular market.
Once the product was in place, they set about creating a promotional and marketing plan that included networking, partnering with other downtown Northampton businesses and actively supporting local charities such as Best Buddies of Western Massachusetts.
"I've lost count of the number of fund-raisers we've contributed to and events we've attended put on by the Northampton Chamber of Commerce, the United Way, the Northampton Area Young Professionals or the Clarke School," Connors said.
In addition to their heavy community involvement, Connors and Tetreault Brewster have created a number of successful and sometimes cheeky e-mail promotions to their customers. Quite possibly their most memorable was for the 2010 holiday season when they invited customers to come in and "Break Their Balls" to blow off a little bit of steam.
In the middle of the store they placed a huge tree decorated to the hilt with glass ornaments. Inside each ornament was a slip of paper with a percentage discount of their purchase. As Christmas Day drew closer, customers had smashed well over 300 ornaments to find out the amount of their discount and Jackson & Connor was on its way to setting a new sales record for December.
For their third year, they plan on expanding their use of social media and a re-launching a newly expanded Web site to further interact with their loyal customer base and to seek out new customers.
"We've only just started tapping into the power of social media as a way to further strengthen the friendship we have with our customers and the community," Tetreault Brewster said.
Connors added, "Already with the limited amount of Facebook advertising we've done, we've already seen some men in our store that didn't know we existed. This is the engine that will get us to our fourth and fifth anniversaries and beyond."
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