Bliss is a truly a ma and pa store, started from scratch by Heather and Kyle Vermeer. They created the store from the ground up nearly 7 years ago from designing the space to carefully choosing each and every item in the shop. They pride themselves on selecting items that are unique and beautiful but remaining conscious of pricing.
Bliss is a unique and timeless boutique that offers an imaginative medley of home accents, accessories, and greeting cards. From modern vases to vintage hooks this locally owned shop is the destination for the perfect gift.
MO: Where did you come up with the idea for Bliss?
Heather: Prior to Bliss we owned a small jewelry and gift boutique in downtown Denver for 12 years. We felt limited by the size of the space, and wanted to expand in both square footage, as well as the store’s content, and overall look. We wanted to get more into the gift and home accent areas. The couple that we sold that store to, call Bliss a “grown up” version of the Denver store. So we created our dream store, designed it from the ground up, and because we are buying the space that Bliss is in, we could really design it exactly the way we wanted to, without having to check with a landlord. It turned out better than we could have hoped for. The store in Denver that we owned prior is still thriving, and it’s really fun for us to visit now and then.
MO: How long did it take for you to develop a strong customer base? Did you do a great deal of marketing and advertising or was it more word of mouth?
Heather: We have a strong philosophy for Bliss regarding advertising. It’s very simple. We don’t advertise at all. The way we see it is, we have prime real estate on Pearl Street, Boulder. It’s a dense shopping street, and high rent that goes along with that. So, really you are paying for advertising one way or another, we consider our prominent location and visibility our advertising. So hand in hand with that, is that we also consider doing excellent visual merchandising, both interior and our window displays. The store gets noticed, gets shopped, and gets talked about.
We’re really old school about it, do a great job at your store and the word gets out, no need to advertise. As disappointing as that is, I’m sure for all the publications out there trying to sell ads. Our philosophy on that is tried and true over our 20 years in retail. Our customer base took a couple of year’s maybe, I’m guessing, to become strong in numbers.
MO: How important is the right team in having a successful business? What qualities were most important to you during the hiring process?
Heather: Having a good, competent, caring staff is hugely important. I give them a huge amount of credit to the success of Bliss. No doubt. I have always hired people mainly using my intuition. I actually run my business that way, intuition is huge. I give short interviews, mainly getting a feel for the persons character. I’m wrong sometimes, but have a pretty good record of hiring conscientious people, who have worked out great. The staff runs the floor, I work off the sales floor, so the impact they have on our business can’t be underestimated. I get compliments all the time on the staff, and how friendly they are, how well our customers were treated. That is truly a compliment.
As well as my staff, there are other components, or parts of the “team” that help Bliss to be so successful. My bank, which is across the street from me, Vectra bank, has been a big help. I know it sounds crazy to say, but I love my bank people! They have helped me make sound financial decisions all along the way, including a recent re-fi on our space, which will save us so much money over the next decade. All the girls at the bank shop in Bliss too, and they are like friends!
MO: How have you managed to get written up in several magazines, both locally and nationally?
Heather: That I don’t really know. I just get phone calls. People have either heard about it, or come in and saw it, and they just call to see if we’d like to be featured. Well yes, of course!! It’s very flattering.
MO: You’ve had your best sales year in the history of Bliss despite the current state of the economy. Why do you think that Bliss is able to thrive when other businesses are struggling?
Heather: Well, first, I’d like to say how thankful I am for that. I realize when both talking to, and hearing about other business’s around the country that are struggling, that Bliss is an exception to the state of small business in the U.S. People are always surprised when they ask me how business is and I tell them, it’s great, best year ever. I can’t be sure, but two of the reasons I believe Bliss to be so successful currently in this economic climate are price points and location. I am very conscious of the price points of our products. I am very aesthetically oriented, and I love beautiful things, but don’t believe in any way that they have to be expensive. Sometimes, just the opposite. I want to provide small objects that will make a beautiful difference in a home or apartment. It’s in the little things, a bird nest with a few faux eggs in on a table, a few beautiful seasonal candles on a mantle. I hope the store inspires people with it’s visual merchandising, and gives people ideas on product placement and decorating. I’d like people to leave the store, having spent only 20 or 30 dollars and go home, and make a difference in a room that makes them feel good. I also credit being in downtown Boulder too, which in itself is a bit of a “bubble” in this economy. People are very conscious of where they put their money, and shopping locally is in their consciousness for sure. I appreciate that so much.
I am planning on putting Bliss up for sale in 2013, after 8 years of owning it, and if sales continue as they are, that should be the best year of sales. I would like to go out on a strong note. I would love to pass our business on to someone likeminded, who is an entrepreneur, with both a creative and a business side. It would be a great opportunity for someone, a very turn-key business, with I believe a lot of growth ahead for it as well. Having started bliss from the ground up, we are of course very sentimentally attached to it, and want to see it go into good and capable hands, we plan on selling it ourselves, not through an agency, so we can really get to know the person who we sell it to.
MO: You’ve won numerous awards, which one meant the most to you?
Heather: I’d probably have to say, the most flattering award Bliss has received, is the “turn your head” award from “Downtown Boulder Inc”. It was for our window displays, just after we first opened, and because I am an artist at heart, and a “window dresser” at heart, it meant a lot. The business side of retail comes second to me, the artistic part is always my passion.
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