By Catherine LeBlanc, 7/9/2012
Owner Dorine Dilandji loves toys. So much that she opened her very own store in October of 2010. But before she could open her store, she had some personal issues and health concerns to overcome. Although these were road blocks in her life, Dorine managed to persevere and continue onward towards her dream of owning her own store.
Having dabbled with starting her online business, she felt the next step was to open a physical location. She pursued a number of locations around Frisco, Texas and found the perfect spot. With the help and assistance from her landlord, she signed the lease. The location was once a bookstore which still had many bookshelves left. Luckily, Dorine did not have to purchase additional shelving when she opened the doors to her store, The Cute Little Shop.
With two years under her belt, Dorine is growing and flourishing. The Cute Little Shop offers an array of children’s toys and accessories in addition to gifts for all years. Dorine strives to sell unique and one-of-a-kind pieces that you cannot find at the big box stores. “We are a specialty store and are always bringing in products that are different” says Dorine. “I love working with my customers when they walk in and really need help finding that special gift.”
With half a year done for 2012, The Cute Little Shop is doing very well for their second year in business. “2012, so far, has been a great year” says Dorine. “Although we are noticing our customers are feeling better about the economy and buying more, they are not spending like they did before.” Around this time of year, The Cute Little Shop is focusing on back-to-school products like their hot selling items, Locker Lookz which are décor items for students to accessorize their school lockers. Birthday gift buying is also a huge part of the business for Dorine.
Excellent customer service is at the forefront of The Cute Little Shop. “I am always here and love taking care of my customers” says Dorine. When Dorine is not traveling for buying trips, she makes every effort to be in her store and out in the front working one-on-one with her customers. “My customers feel like they are being taken care of and you can’t get that in the big stores. We make them feel welcomed and really at home when they walk through our doors. Plus they love finding truly unique products and can feel great about giving their special someone their gift.”
At The Cute Little Shop, Dorine always has something new to show her customers. “We offer up-to-date products and hot items that are always on trend” says Dorine. “Plus we really listen to our customers. When they ask for a specific product, I will do my best to research it and see about bringing it into our store.” You will not find Barbie Dolls at The Cute Little Shop “We try and help our customers think outside of the box when it comes to toys. We say ‘Don’t you think the birthday girl will get Barbie’s? Give her something different.” Dorine and her staff treat their customers like friends where with honesty and loyalty every time.
Dorine does her share of marketing her business with the assistance of a local marketing company. “We hired a small local marketing company to help us with our advertising and marketing efforts” says Dorine. “They really know the area and what works.” The Cute Little Shop has been advertised in their local newspaper and magazines along with help from their Chamber of Commerce. In fact, The Cute Little Shop is in the running a best gift shop in the local D Magazine (Dallas Area local magazine). “If we win this honor, it will be so good for the store and we will get some great exposure.” They also have their own Facebook page, website, email marketing and blogs to promote their store. “We also do many events each month. Soon, Dorine will host her first-ever event called “Hope Olympics”. This special event is a fundraiser that will help raise money to build a local playground specifically for children with special needs. “If all goes well, we will continue to host this event until they raise enough money to build the playground” says Dorine. The event and fundraiser will include selling raffle tickets for giveaways and 10% of all the sales for the event will go towards the playground fund. “To me, doing events like this is very important. Giving back to the community is near and dear to our hearts.” Around the holiday time, they do another charity event where they collect new and gently used clothes for needy children. In turn, they give their patrons who donate a coupon to use in their store. It’s a win-win for everyone.
October 2012 marks The Cute Little Shop’s second Anniversary. And what better way to celebrate this occasion then with a spectacular Halloween theme event. “We have a lot planned for our anniversary event” says Dorine. “Not only will our store be decorated with Halloween items and décor, but we also will be selling Halloween toys and products.” According to Dorine, there will be drawing to enter and face-painting plus lots of food and drinks. Additionally, The Cute Little Shop will conduct a costume contest for all ages. “We are having only a one day event, but it will be a great one.”
For The Cute Little Shop, their first two years in business has been exciting and worthwhile. “As a local business owner, we know that it’s very important to be involved with your community and local charities. Again, it’s our way of giving back when we can “says Dorine. Many other facets make up a productive, growing independent retail store including a strong and caring customer service along with a creative marketing plan. “But for us, word of mouth is also shaping up to be very important. It feels so good to have a customer come in and say they heard about us from other friends or acquaintances. That is the best marketing tool around.”
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