Retailers Docking on Both Sides of the Bay – Tampa Bay Times

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By Katherine Snow Smith, Times Staff Writer
In Print: Wednesday, April 25, 2012

….The Shop

After four successful years running the Shop clothing store next to El Cap Restaurant on Fourth Street, owner Vicky Blair wasn’t so sure when her husband urged her to open a second location in South Tampa.

“I didn’t know if I’d be able to split myself and have that same kind of connection I have here in two separate stores,” she said. “But like everything else in life, you have to take a chance.”

It paid off. The store at 2507 S MacDill Ave. was profitable from the start. Blair credits customer service and her constantly changing inventory that’s different from anything at chain stores. She and her husband go on buying trips once or twice a month, work with small designers and are very conscious of pricing.

Blair has also found a way to almost be in two places at once. Her employees at the Tampa store text her once an hour to report how many customers have come in, how many have purchased and what has sold. She constantly compares activity at the two stores.

“If sales are off one hour, okay. Two hours, okay. At three hours I start asking: ‘What’s going on. Is it raining? Is somebody not feeling well? We’re selling a lot of this or that (in St. Petersburg), do you have it out on the floor?’ We talk back and forth all day, almost every hour,” she said. “We boost each other up.”

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