Anne-Laurie Bergeron unexpectedly took the reins of her mother’s boutique and used her business savvy and a tight-knit local business community to make it thrive.
Neighorhood Shop Spotlight: Out of Town
By Tina Christopoulos
Newly minted mom to a 6-month old little guy, Brooke Leno talks about wanting to bring quality brands to her small-town community and how the locals see her store as a destination outing.
What inspired you to open a clothing store?
Out of Town was founded in 2011 with the goal to bring brands to our small town that you used to have to go "out of town" to find. Since then we have expanded and opened a second store in Bismarck. Our customers love the uniqueness and that they can shop locally for the things they want versus ordering online.
How would you describe being a local boutique?
My favorite part is building relationships with our customers and the entire community. We get to know people and get to outfit them through all their great life moments. Being in our community for over 7 years, we've dressed some people through college, for their first job, for their bachelorette party or bridal shower, done tuxes for their wedding, and then started outfitting their babies! It's such an amazing feeling knowing people keep coming back and being able to get to know our community year after year.
What can you tell us about your community?
The kids come in and go straight to the Goldfish crackers we offer them because they are so used to being in our store! We are located in smaller communities, so on a weekend sometimes "getting out of the house" is coming to our store to hang out and look around. It's an amazing feeling knowing they love to come see us.
What do you look for when you bring a brand into your store?
We want to make sure that the clothes are going to be comfortable, wash well, and be able to be worn from one kid to the next in a family with multiple kiddos. We think about where the kids are going to wear particular pieces and if it works for those situations. We also want to make sure that the price is reasonable because our customers are definitely aware that kids grow fast! A lot of thought goes into each brand and each piece we choose for our store.
What attracted you to Miles baby?
It’s cute, but functional, and also very well priced. We love the fact that the clothes are so soft and the kids feel like they are wearing sweats, but they look adorable! The brand also washes up really great. Our customers wash and dry the pieces and they don't shrink or get out of shape. Lastly, the fact that most pieces are unisex and can be mixed and matched is a total bonus! My son has plenty of Miles Baby, it's my favorite clothes to put on him.
Do you prefer being on the floor in the store, or behind the scenes?
I really enjoy a mix of both. Any business owner would understand that there is a lot of work that goes on in that back room which is very time-consuming. Sometimes it's hard to get on the floor as much as I'd like, but I try to at least 1-2 days a week. Being on the floor and talking to people helps me get the feedback I need to continue to build this business and be successful. Seeing and helping our customers really puts that fire back into my soul and reminds me why I did this in the first place. They put a smile on my face!