When Laura Hobek opened her first brick-and-mortar business this summer, she spared no detail.
“When people walk into our store, they don’t realize that 95% of our fixtures were handmade by my husband and I,” the El Paso business owner said of her folksy boutique The Gypsy Den.
“From the clothing racks to the grand checkout counter, you get the intimate feel of a small, resort-town boutique.”
Although the physical business is expanding rapidly, online sales through Scott’s Marketplace are a key to Laura’s growth strategy as she seeks to reach customers outside the El Paso area.
We recently exchanged emails with Laura to discuss how her hybrid ecommerce and brick-and-mortar boutique work in tandem together.
The DRIVE: What inspired you to open a brick-and-mortar shop?
Laura: I’m an avid fan of handmade crafts. I personally make altered bottles and pallet artwork and designs and I love woodworking and wood burning. Crafting started as a hobby, but people wanted to buy my pieces so I opened an online shop last year.
Eventually, I found there were a lot of people like me who crafted from home but had no buyers. That’s why I opened The Gypsy Den’s physical store. I wanted that physical presence for my customers. You can find just about anything in my shop including handmade crafts and jewelry from other local artists.
The decision to open a physical store pays off when a new client walks through the door and tells me I have the cutest store around.
The DRIVE: Very nice! What else do you love about being a business owner?
Laura: My favorite part of the job is the freedom it offers me and my family. I left the corporate world to start my own business and offer specialized attention to my clients without corporate rules.
With The Gypsy Den, I’m free to listen to my customers and give them exactly what they want at a great price. We don’t mark up our products 10 times like most boutiques. We believe in offering great products at a price everyone can afford. We understand the value of your hard-earned money.
The DRIVE: What’s been your biggest challenge as you’ve worked to grow the business?
Laura: The most challenging part is getting the word out about my store. It’s not easy to keep up with websites, search engine optimization, advertising, etc. That’s why I love Scott’s Marketplace! I put in my inventory and you do the rest.
It’s a very simple process and I just have to promote it on my end. I’m constantly on top of promotion – from Facebook and Instagram to local direct mailers and tradeshows. It’s a time-consuming part of the business, but potential customers won’t even know I exist without it.
The DRIVE: That is so true! So, let’s do a little promotion. Tell us about a product you’re especially proud to offer via Scott’s Marketplace.
Laura: I am really proud of the handmade jewelry I’m selling for some great local artists from here in El Paso. I have necklaces and bracelets from some wonderful ladies. They really put their heart and soul into their work and it shows. Handmade items always make wonderful personal gifts.