Not All Who Wander End Up in Detroit
Detroit Local Case Study #8
This past holiday season marked the debut of the Downtown Detroit Holiday markets. I was delighted to visit several of the retailers I've met through TechTown Detroit's Ask An Expert program in their very own glass houses throughout December and January. As a shopper, I absolutely loved the experience. And, judging by the foot traffic I observed during my visits, I wasn't the only one (in fact, fingers crossed, they will be reintroduced this spring). Vendor review was also hugely positive. Those with whom I spoke were enthusiastic about the fantastic exposure, the unique venue, and especially the affordability. The accessible entry point was critical to enabling that authentic mix of local retailers.
Nikki Neuzil owner of Flamingo Vintage Detroit, pictured here, was one such cool local retailer. I met Nikki a year or so ago, shortly after she decided to pack up her vintage clothing business and move to Detroit. Since she was brand new to the area, she has spent the last year gathering market intelligence--getting to know the nuances of the City and the local retail scenes. She developed a pop up strategy to test experiences around town and she operated out of the Cass Collective for several months. Nikki appraised her glass house experience ebulliently:
- It was a great local launching pad for Flamingo Vintage Detroit (Nikki runs two other brick and mortar locations in Texas and a vibrant Etsy store)
- It provided her with invaluable local exposure
- She used it as a vehicle to drive traffic to her Cass Collective space where she had additional inventory on sale (in fact, there were times when Nikki was expertly juggling four simultaneous locations--a fairly common practice for hard-working retailers during their busiest time of the year)
- She established repeat business
- She got to know buying behavior specific to the Capital Park neighborhood in which she was located
- She saw an in increase in her Etsy traffic and her Instagram sales during the glass houses timeframe
- She got a feel for the weather-specific impact during her first Midwestern winter
Most importantly, Nikki was able to reinvest some of her holiday sales revenue back into her business by upgrading her photography equipment, which she's already put to good use enhancing the visual quality of her Etsy listings. When I think about the attributes it takes to be a successful entrepreneur I think of Nikki. She approaches each experience as an opportunity to develop understanding in addition to driving revenue. She works really, really hard. She's perceptive. She's disciplined in documenting her observations and reaching out to validate them among an ever-widening network. And, to top it off, she's cheerfully optimistic about the future of her business here in Detroit. I can't wait to see where she lands next.
Check out Flamingo Vintage Detroit at V L N T N S D Y M R K T 6 at the Fisher Building this weekend!