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Perks and Parties
Putting shoppers first.

Have you noticed the increase over the last few years of tempting store parties and promotions? Given current spending habits, smart retailers know it’s not so much about slashing prices (those they save for end-of-season clearances and holiday sales) as much as satisfying shoppers with a blend of bargains and fun-to-create, entertaining shopping experiences. Aided by the advent of email, Facebook and Twitter, independent retailers are able to find out exactly what their customers are looking for and create marketing, pricing and promotional plans to help them deliver it. As it costs about five times more to establish a new customer than keep an old one, stores are motivated to give shoppers what they want rather than see them go looking elsewhere to find it.

Key to the success of this approach is making sure all store employees pay close attention to the many facets of customer service. This includes enticing store promotions such as event parties, loyalty discounts, reward programs, book signings, trunk shows, birthday clubs, private shopping options, fashion shows, onsite fashion stylists and, even in some cases, complimentary hair, makeup or massage services because bottom line, all of this adds up to what the industry calls “perceived shopping value” for consumers. Even though there’ll always be those who chuck all the perks in favor of rooting through racks overflowing with stuff at deeply discounted pricing, frankly, those sort of guerilla shopping situations usually go hand in hand with a flood of garish lighting, minimal staff and little, if any, customer service. Studies show regardless of the economy, most shoppers given their druthers, prefer to experience the ambience of a well-designed store offering up well-presented, easily accessible and appealing products at tempting prices, especially when in tandem they’re offered a little somethin’ somethin’ as a special treat.

So that said, here are a few treats going on this week:

Artist and Display
Artist and Display
comes through with its special biannual MAKE YOUR MARK art event March 26 (11 a.m.-3 p.m.), where along with lots of store specials, professional artists will be on hand to introduce and demonstrate lots of really interesting techniques to inspire the creative spirit in all. Throughout the day Make It & Take It workshops will have shoppers creating art pieces and cards as they try out General’s brand graphite, watercolor, pastel and watercolor charcoal pencils, learn new blending techniques using Copic markers, fashion flowers and dragonflies with Tombow brush markers, come up with seasonal-inspired Artist Trading cards and find out how to use distress inks. Although not hands on, other demos cover ways to craft artful Easter eggs, embellish envelopes, work with transfers and more. Working with the From Our Hearts organization (fromourhearts.com), the store also makes it easy to have any cards you create sent on to military troops, which they in turn can use to send back home at no charge to a wife, husband, parent, child or other loved one. Whether you come for the specials, the experience, the demos or the door prizes, the cool thing is this art event is free. 9015 W. Burleigh St., 414-442-9100, artistanddisplay.com.

Urban Laundry
Because the fashion is always so fresh at Urban Laundry, it’s hard to believe the store is ready to celebrate its fourth birthday. The festivities get kicked off March 24 (5-10 p.m.), with an evening event that offers shoppers 30 percent off all the full-priced clothing in the boutique, flash discounts, prize drawings, divine treats, a trunk show featuring flirty totes and handbags by local designer karynmarie along with the opportunity to preorder exciting new dresses from Gaddo Gaddo. The store also partners up with neighboring Be Spectacled to present a fashion show (7:15 p.m.) highlighting easy modern style and accessories including this season’s newest eyewear (linger afterward to shop a trunk show of fabulously bold frames from L.A.’s Dita). All in all, this b-day bash promises to be a fun one, and hey, that 30 percent sale? It runs right through March 27. 7602 Harwood Ave., 414 -257-2770, urban-laundry.com & 7605 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa, 414-453-1300, bespectacledeyes.com.

Boutique Larrieux
Speaking of birthdays, Boutique Larrieux has something really special planned to mark its very first on March 26 (5-8 p.m.). In addition to a fashion show scheduled for 6:30 p.m., champagne and hors d’oeuvres, the store, which is known for offering some of the most modern and sophisticated fashions available for women sizes 12-24, steps up with a 15 percent discount on just about everything except sale merchandise. But perhaps most exciting, owner Lydia Hamilton who understands plus-size fashion inside and out, tells me she’ll be unveiling the BL Monogram Collection, a private label fashion line she’s created for the boutique. Drawing from her personal design aesthetic of “easy chic” pairing fashionable trends with comfortable wearability, The buzz on her initial pieces - an intricately pin-tucked tunic, tuxedo pencil skirt, peekaboo lace panel dress and hand-beaded dress – is nothing short of terrific. RSVP appreciated, complimentary valet parking with purchase. 717 N. Milwaukee St., 414-278-0000, boutiquelarrieux.com.

Tadpole birthday crown
And finally for the kids … Tadpole Kids is all set to stage a four-day Ten Year Birthday Party starting March 23- 26 (10 a.m.-5 p.m.). Celebratory specials include a $10 savings on purchases for the first 10 shoppers to arrive but don’t worry if you arrive late, everyone can take advantage of the 10 percent storewide sale and drawing to win one of ten $50 gift certificates. Add to that complimentary refreshements (yes of course there will be yummy cupcakes) and a free gift with purchase and well, it’s understandable why depite economic tightening of our collective belts, this store remains beloved by parents, grandparents and just about everyone shopping for great kids stuff. 708 Genesee St., Delafield, 262-646-5556, tadpolekids.com.

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mjor Posted: 4/1/2011 8:54:52 AM
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I'm looking forward to Spring, did you hear about the Easter Egg hunt for kids and adults in the Third Ward? It should be a great time too!
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