After reading the title, the joker in you would probably blurt out, “the spelling!”, and I would respond with a sarcastic “Ha! Ha!”. But let’s be serious for a moment, shall we?
Now that you have mentioned the spelling, we will use that for starters. ‘Boutique’ has the letter Q, which makes it fancier.
Let’s get more technical then. ‘Boutique’ is French in origin, coined around the mid-18th century. Its shortest definition is ‘small shop.’ But let’s dig deeper into its meaning.
A boutique is a small shop that sells fashionable clothes, accessories, and the like, often located within a more extensive shop.
‘Store’ is of Middle English origin and means “a retail establishment that sells goods to the public”. In a nutshell, a boutique is a specialty shop selling limited kinds of products, whereas a store sells a broader range of items.
Now, let’s talk about the more refined differences between the two.
First, let’s start with the size. The size of a business determines whether an establishment is a boutique or a store. Boutiques are usually small spaces, sometimes booths, stands, stalls, enclosed malls, strip plazas, or arcades. They are rarely stand-alone establishments.
In contrast, stores are bigger, more flexible, and occupy wider spaces to sell their wares. Typically they also have access to larger areas.
Furthermore, boutiques tend to look quaint and charming, while stores look more generic. Customers can often get one-on-one assistance at a boutique, too.
Variety is Key
The second thing that distinguishes a boutique from a store is the small variety of goods a boutique offers. Variety is the number of categories in which you sell products.
A store, also defined as a large retail chain, may offer clothing, beauty products, office supplies, and possibly food all in one branch. A broader assortment of items are often sorted into several departments. Therefore, stores require more expansive floor areas.
You will find a limited number of specialty items in a boutique, but they are more upscale and one-of-a-kind. Given limited space, they must be pickier with supplies. Their owners tend to handpick the items they showcase personally, making their products rarer.
Boutiques concentrate on very select product or service categories. A specialty purse or dress shop likely only offers a single kind of product, for instance. Boutiques often present more sophisticated product selections instead of broader ones, providing buyers with more choices.
You can indeed launch a boutique fitting many product categories, but fashion and apparel retailers are the most inclined to choose this format of store. A boutique works wonders for fashion or apparel because higher-end buyers often want custom-designed or hard-to-find styles.
Don’t Forget About the Price Tag
You may notice the disparity between item prices in stores and boutiques. Inventory directly affects this. Boutiques procure their items in small quantities from small to midsize suppliers.
Meanwhile, most stores or retail companies manufacture their products or clothing lines on a large scale. If a retail company does not manufacture its goods, it purchases them from wholesalers in bulk quantities instead.
Buying in small amounts costs more than buying in large quantities. For this reason, boutiques are usually more pricey than stores. Another reason boutiques sell goods at higher prices is because they are more extraordinary and cater to a niche market.
Fueled by Passion
Boutique store owners are known to devote their entire lives to their store. Their businesses are often small, privately owned, conceptualized and made into reality by someone passionate about seeing it succeed and grow. It’s not uncommon for them to personally man the cash register, assist customers, and be the salesperson simultaneously.
On the other hand, large corporations own retail stores, and managers are entrusted to handle them. The manager is delegated to maintain and keep the store running smoothly, but it does not hurt them if profit is lost. Boutique owners depend heavily on the income their stores produce and their dealings with their customers.
While you may argue that a passion for their business can drive the people who own, manage, and run a company, a boutique has a slim chance of booming if its founder is not passionate about its product.
A large-scale store is often built by someone who takes their chance with business to realize entrepreneurial dreams. A boutique founder often crafts or acquires niche goods and turns the boutique into a platform to convert their passion into something profitable.
Well-Known Boutiques Around the World
In this section, we compiled a list of some of the top boutiques around the globe. Most of them are so high-end that the average consumer probably has not heard of them. Check and see which one you are familiar with.
A boutique known as The Cartel is based in Dubai and features avant-garde fashion, creative silhouettes, and eye-catching accessories.
Moscow’s Aizel caters to a clientele that includes local teenagers and high-profile celebrities such as Naomi Campbell and Anna Kournikova.
Boasting a feature called an online wish list is a boutique situated in Montreal that goes by the name of Ssense.
Deep in the heart of Lagos is Alara, housing an eclectic mix of fashion, art, furnishings, and decorative objects.
Thanx God I’m a VIP
This boutique with the catchy, ego-boosting name hails from one of the world’s fashion capitals, Paris.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to spot the difference between a boutique and a store. Now that you know their distinctions, you can take your pick. Make an informed decision to select a business format for your establishment.
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