Why e-commerce boutique Hello Holiday opened a brick-and-mortar store

Adding a physical store to Hello Holiday was an unexpected move for the e-commerce boutique's founders. “When we started Hello Holiday, we never saw ourselves offering an in-person shopping experience because we thought e-commerce was the entire vision of the future."

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11000934_10206310256702388_892064787_oLast November Hello Holiday opened its first storefront location at 5008 Underwood Ave. in Dundee, an Omaha neighborhood. The store opened just in time for the start of the holiday shopping season.

“Black Friday was great,” said Megan Hunt, co-founder of Hello Holiday.

“It’s always a good sales day for us, as well as Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. As an online store with a physical showroom, we’re well-positioned to take advantage of all those different shopping holidays. We do huge promotions on that week every year.”

The online fashion company, founded by Megan Hunt and Sarah Lorsung Tvrdik in 2012, sells women’s clothing and accessories from independent designers.

Storefront increases local conversion, customer insight

Hunt believes starting online was key to a successful startup.

“Starting a business as lean as possible is the best way to test a risky concept, and starting our retail store online helped us gain an international following of customers and designers which would have been impossible to cultivate with only a physical location,” Hunt said.

Hunt and Lorsung Tvrdik decided to open a physical location in response to feedback from local customers.

“Already having a solidly profitable online business has us in an advantageous position to grow our inventory, staff, and revenue and hit the ground running with our first physical location,” said Hunt.

There’s a lot of new challenges that come from a physical location.

“There’s a lot of display work and differences in our marketing methods that we’ve needed to figure out in opening our local shop,” said Lorsung Tvrdik.

However, the new location has provided two benefits to the online retailer: eliminating perceived risk for local customers and providing greater customer insight.

“We’ve found that it’s resulted in a huge conversion boost from Omaha customers who now have multiple channels to shop with us,” said Hunt.

“It’s also great to have more opportunities to get to know our customers one-on-one, not only through our daily sales but [also] our community events.”11018263_10206310256582385_1405536455_o

Late nights with paintbrushes, drills

Hunt and Lorsung Tvrdik decided to temporarily close the store after the holiday season to finish remodeling their space. They closed the store in late January and had a grand reopening on February 6.

“We got the physical space much later than we originally intended,” said Hunt. “And we didn’t have time to finish all of the construction before the holiday shopping season.”

Reopening quickly was essential so the co-founders decided to get involved with the remodeling team.

“We had a lot of late nights listening to country music on an old radio they had while we painted and grouted tile,” said Hunt. “It was all-hands-on-deck, and everybody on the Hello Holiday team as well as the contractors had a paintbrush or drill in hand.”

Hello Holiday is grateful to their contractors for the quality of the work.

“Working with our construction team from Midlands Siding was amazing—they were detail-oriented, communicative, respectful, and very fast,” said Hunt.

The future is unpredictable

Adding a physical store was an unexpected move for the e-commerce boutique’s founders.

“When we started Hello Holiday, we never saw ourselves offering an in-person shopping experience because we thought e-commerce was the entire vision of the future,” said Hunt.

“Now the conversion rates we’re seeing through our showroom proves that we should be embracing a multi-channel shopping experience to grow and serve our customer base.”

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Photos courtesy of Hello Holiday. This story was written in collaboration with Shaina Tromp.

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