Entrepreneur Suzanne Smith, the owner of Betty Be Good Boutique, is planning on expanding her Canadian online business later this fall to a bricks and mortar store in the U.S.
For the past 18 months, she ran her e-commerce Betty Be Good business out of her home in South Surrey, but now Smith is “[going] against the retail trend” and offering an in-store shopping experience for her Betty Be Good customers at Birch Bay Square in Blaine, Washington.
Smith says this business move makes the “most sense” because of longer lines at the border each weekend and more Nexus card holders than ever before.
“It’s just 5 minutes down the I-5. While it’s in another country, it’s actually the best place to connect with my Canadian customers. We visit Blaine to get better deals on milk and eggs, now we get the latest fashion too,” Smith said.
She’s not the first in her family to open a store south of the border. She’s “following in the footsteps of her parents,” who sold five Subway restaurants that they owned in South Surrey, only to open up six Subway restaurants between Blaine and Bellingham in Washington.
Smith and her parents’ reasons? The United States’ business model “runs in favour of entrepreneurs”; rent is between $15 to $20 per square foot in Whatcom County, while entrepreneurs in Greater Vancouver are charged $40 to $50 per square foot. And this is with “all factors considered.”
“Start up can be considerably less when you consider the cost of labour to build out the store,” Smith further stated.
And while Smith will be saving money on rent, her customers will be getting apparel at up to 30% off!
“Without having to pay duty on her foreign made inventory, Smith can offer her young contemporary styles for up to 30% less than Canadian retailers. A skirt that retails at Canadian boutiques for $75 will retail at her Blaine location for $50.”
“The savings [have] allowed Smith to take a more calculated risk and offer a modest retail store, which doubles as a showroom for her online business. ‘Showrooming’ is a popular concept for e-commerce businesses that compete with bricks and mortar on price, but may struggle to make the final sale if a customer wants to touch and feel a product.”
“Fashion is a tactile shopping experience. People generally prefer to feel the sweater and try on the jeans. We will offer both options and real time inventory management so a shopper can know exactly how many styles are available in her size at this very moment by looking online,” she said.
“Smith will continue to ship from Canada to customers who enjoy shopping online without having to pay duties and fees. Canadian prices at www.bettybegood.ca will be slightly more than U.S. prices to offset the cost to import. Considering the low overhead of the e-commerce business in Canada, prices will only run a shopper 10% to 15% more.”
“With free shipping when you spend $50, some shoppers [at Betty Be Good] might choose to skip the line-ups and driving to have fashion delivered right to their doorstep,” says Smith.
Image credit: www.bettybegood.ca