DALLAS -- Twelve stories up in a bank building isn't where you'd expect to find a women's designer boutique, but that's just where Betty Reiter set up shop last January.
"Customers come up here and they hang out," says Reiter of her perch in the Guaranty Federal Savings building on Douglas Avenue. "I wanted it to be really friendly and relaxed. It's become kind of a little club."
It probably wouldn't work for most retailers, but Reiter had built a clotheshorse clientele in the two years she sold fashion at Stanley Korshak and the previous 11 years that she bought and sold fashions at Loretta Blum, now closed. Her assistant, Jan Ringle, also is a sales veteran of both stores.
But a bird's-eye view of north Dallas isn't the only reason Reiter's new enterprise is running sky high: After only three months in business, she's on track to do $750,000 in annual sales. Reiter estimates that 90 percent of the shoppers who visit the store buy something, at prices ranging from $200 for a pair of pants to $900 for a jacket.
"I've seen the high end of the market shrink in front of my own eyes, but I find my clients still want special service, and they are still buying expensive clothes," Reiter claimed.
As a courtesy, she will help a customer pack, put together a wardrobe or organize a closet. Reiter will even shop for customers at other stores if she doesn't have what they need.
A native of Paris who came to the U.S. 25 years ago, Reiter feels her French heritage helps her on frequent buying trips to Paris. She also shops in Belgium, Milan and New York -- always seeking little-known collections and avoiding the big names.
Because of intense local retail competition, Reiter doesn't divulge the names of the lines she stocks, preferring to sew her own label into them. Says Reiter, "I don't want to sell the label; I want to sell the clothing, the style, the fabric."
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