Whimsy’s Closet opened in 1997 on the second floor of the Pottery Place, carrying three lines of clothing. They are now located in the heart of downtown Red Wing, on the corner of Main and Bush. Sue says, “Every time we’ve moved, the flavor of the store changes.” Perhaps that’s part of their formula for success. Or it is a reflection of Susan’s fun & creative personality, positioning her well to adapt, learn and grow?
Stocking a store that keeps customers coming back requires quite of bit of insight beyond her own personal style, which she describes this way, “If it doesn’t go back to a pair of jeans it really isn’t clothing. I’m a hippy. I went to St. Olaf College where people still ran around during the 70s with Scandinavian sweaters. I had my hair tied back in a bandana, wearing ripped-out bibs and a hooded sweatshirt.” Her personal look has expanded to include an eclectic assortment of whimsy.
As Whimsy’s started to sell more than the original three lines, it became difficult to keep track of what products were selling well. This is when they hired a consultant, who they have been using for over 20 years. The consultant’s insights, along with customer feedback, comparing notes with other retailers, and going to market, factor into what products make it on the racks.
Considering these purchases happen three to six months in advance of making it into the store, there is considerable risk involved in predicting what clients will fall in love with. It’s important that there is always fresh product for the customers, even if that means moving items to the sale racks. Susan keeps things fresh and exciting for her customers. Here are some trends Susan is predicting. “I’m predicting blues are coming on stronger. And I’m predicting lavender is going to be that pop color.” After all, she did select “mustard” colored items, and now trending big time.
Playtime is when “She is willing to throw anything on.” Susan delights when customers are there to explore, try new things and find what Susan says is, “our shield between our vulnerable selves and the world.” She goes on, “We get to decide how we present ourselves to the world through our clothing…what it says about ourselves. Some things we want to share and some things we’d rather keep to ourselves. I really do believe clothes are that for most people. I do believe for some people coming in shopping is where they get stroked, and they’re told they’re okay and somebody listens to their stories.”
From the very beginning, when Susan was raising six children, until today, with Susan’s husband Daryl being more involved with the day-to-day operations, her business has had the love and support from her family, which really translates to the why and how they do business.
We are blessed to have Whimsy’s Closet as a part of our downtown and as a Downtown Main Street Partner.