Sarah Schaeffer, the owner of The Uptown Boutique, certainly recognizes that her business has transformed since she recently moved her store to a new location and changed the name from ‘Uptown Angels’ to ‘The Uptown Boutique.’
But, even though her new location is merely a few steps away from the old location, Schaeffer says that there are many new and exciting additions that came along with the name change and the move.
When I recently sat down to interview Schaeffer at her new store, I jokingly made the comment that she’s “moving on uptown” in the world of fashion. Of course, being a long-time friend of mine, Schaeffer didn’t hesitate to take a little jab at me for my blatantly cliché remark (it was all in good, clean fun).
Read on to learn more about this young business-woman and how she is advancing in the Springfield fashion world by taking risks and working hard to provide customers at The Uptown Boutique with the ultimate local shopping experience.
Simon Hammock: Why did you decide to move your store’s location, especially considering you only moved four doors down in the same shopping center?
Sarah Schaeffer: We had the 1,600 square foot for at least two years and this past year business had really been booming. So, inventory wise, the old store was busting at the seams. I was running out of wall space to put things and I was running out of fixtures to put items on the store floor. I didn’t want the store to be so congested. I started thinking about it in late spring, and I was thinking we needed to move from the 1,600 square foot space to 2,200 square feet. I wasn’t thinking about a large jump, but more of a smaller step. But, when this location four doors down became available I just said, “You know what, let’s just do it. Let’s just double the space and make a big jump.” Not to mention, it was a really easy move because we were only four doors down. Some people have even walked into our new store and not even realized that we’ve moved. They’ve said things like, “Oh, you redecorated,” and it’s been funny. Plus, Charlie’s Fine Ladies Apparel, the business that used to be here, was so prominent in Springfield fashion for 35 years. It was a place where a lot of girls would go to try on formal dresses for prom, and I know I personally tried on dresses there and so did my friends. He was in this location since it was built in 1978 and had this business for 35 years. So, whenever he retired, I jumped all over the chance to take over his space because it’s within the same center and we’re located next to a hair salon*, which is a big thing for ladies who like to go get their hair done and then go shopping afterwards. Honestly though, I just love the Fremont Center and I think it’s a great place to be, so that had a lot to do with my decision.
*Note- During our interview, a woman actually walked into The Uptown Boutique accidentally thinking it was the hair salon next door – point proven, Sarah.
Hammock: What are some new additions that you have at your new location?
Schaeffer: Our biggest new addition is the fact that we’re now carrying denim again. When I bought the store in April of 2011, I took over the previous owner’s inventory of denim. There were two brands that I originally carried – one of them went out of business and the other one was also sold at The Buckle. I didn’t want to carry any brands that could be found at our mall, so I stopped carrying denim. But, long story short, I started researching denim last spring. I found two different lines that nobody else in Springfield carries and both brands gave me the rights to be the only carrier in the Springfield area. Another new addition is the fact that at the old store we only had two fitting rooms, and now we have four of them because I would sometimes notice at the old store that people would be waiting to try on clothing and I would always feel bad because I didn’t have any extra fitting rooms. So, with the extra space that I have in the new store, I was able to double the amount of fitting rooms. We also doubled our inventory level and I started carrying more handbags.
Hammock: Why did you change the name of your store from Uptown Angels to The Uptown Boutique?
Schaeffer: Uptown Angels was the original owner’s name for the store, which was fine. When I took over the entire business I didn’t want to stray too far from the original name, inventory, concepts and other things because of the customers. But, the longer I stayed at the other store, the more and more I felt like I wanted to change things. So, when we decided we were going to move locations, I started to brainstorm different ideas for names and I came up with a whole list of potential names. But, I felt like a lot of the newer names that I was coming up with were so far detached from Uptown Angels and I didn’t want to alienate or confuse any of our long-time customers. I didn’t want to confuse any of my clientele or make them think that I had left the store. So, I just figured that The Uptown Boutique was both similar enough and different enough to where I felt satisfied. Even at the old store, a lot of the customers would be talking on the phone and they would say, “Oh, I’m at Uptown right now.” It felt like the name change was significant enough to satisfy me, but not too different from the original name to the point where it would confuse my clientele.
Hammock: What are some things that you’d like to do with The Uptown Boutique in the future?
Schaeffer: I’m going to be at this store for at least five more years, because that’s what I’m signed up for. I’ve thought about doing a second store in places like Fayetteville or Columbia because I think they’re both good towns for boutiques and I love those places. We’ve thought about it, but there’s a lot that goes into the decision. I have to ask questions like ‘where would I want to put it?’ I would love to open another store, but the thought of it kind of makes me nervous. In the near future, I would like to start more online sales. It’s a big thing for me, but I need to establish E-Commerce and things like that. My biggest focus right now is developing the brand of The Uptown Boutique and making it different than Uptown Angels.
Hammock: What are three of your favorite things about Springfield?
Schaeffer: I really like all of the local restaurants. I probably could eat out for dinner every day. There are just so many options. On an even broader scale, I just love any locally owned stores and I make a conscious effort to shop locally as much as I possibly can. Another thing that I love about Springfield is that it has a small-town feel to it, but in reality it’s actually a pretty big city. The third thing I like is the fact that we’re surrounded by bigger cities and we aren’t too far out of the way. I love the surrounding areas and the fact that it doesn’t take that long to get to big cities like St. Louis or Kansas City. I just love how Springfield is so centralized and living here doesn’t make me feel like I’m disconnected from the rest of the world.
If you’re looking to shop at The Uptown Boutique, but don’t have the opportunity to make it into the store, you can check out the official ‘The Uptown Boutique’ Facebook page. Sarah updates the page regularly by posting pictures of her entire inventory. All you have to do is ‘like’ the Facebook page and request to hold an item – then you can simply pick up the clothing piece at a later time.
The Uptown Boutique is open on Monday, Friday and Saturday from 10:30 AM to 6 PM and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 10:30 AM to 7 PM. The store is located in the Fremont Shopping Center at the corner of Fremont and Battlefield in south Springfield.