Boutiques Fight to Stay Open During Recession

Wednesday, 30 December 2009 13:49 Written by  Stormi Texas

Founded by Emilia Dlugolecka, the Mr. & Mrs. Digz boutique is hard to miss. In two large windows facing the street, a long white dress is studded with sparkling rhinestones. Mr. & Mrs. Digz is one of the most unique boutiques in the Chicago area, and it offers a distinctive array of selections.

dgDlugolecka explained that she opened her shop after she lost her job as a project coordinator because of the economic recession last year.

“January of 2009, I got laid off from my corporate job. I had some time to think about what I was going to do next,” says Dlugolecka.

Chicago has made a name for itself when it comes to fashion, like hosting its very own Fashion Week in September, where local designers get to show off their different clothing lines from high fashion to everyday wear. Many of these designers have always had an eye for fashion, but took a safer route, working corporate jobs. But once the economy took a nosedive, many of the would-be designers lost their jobs and turned to their true love -- fashion.

Since the economy has been down, many people have been let go from their jobs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, unemployment has risen from 9.8 to 10.2 percent. People are losing their jobs in construction, manufacturing and retail trade.

“In April, I was looking around on Clark Street for a place where I can open my own boutique,” says Dlugolecka.

Opening a business can be hard because the business owner has to know a thing or two about the business world, from bookkeeping and making enough money each month to pay the bills. Dlugolecka admits she was totally out of her element. “Opening my boutique, I never had any retail experience. I had to have my friend show me how to use the register,” she said. Still, she had faith in her business and dream. Now her boutique has been open for a little over five months.

Dlugolecka is just one example of a group of creative entrepreneurs who turned to a new risky career when their safe professions faded away in the recession. But what many people don’t know is that some of these boutiques are struggling to stay open. People are thinking twice about spending money in expensive boutiques. Discount stores and lower priced shops are making good money in this bad economy.

One of these popular boutiques struggling to keep their doors open is Tragically Hip, located on the North Side of Chicago. Owner Adrian Thomas said, “The only reason I am still open is because of my husband,” who supports the shop. Tragically Hip did not show fashion by local artists until the economy soured, and Thomas thought it would be a good idea to begin showing designs by Chicago residents. However, Tragically Hip will no longer be open at the start of the year.

Jewelry designer Kristen Morris has been making jewelry for eight years on and off. She says that she sees the struggle in the fashion industry today. “The recession has affected everyone in the business industry. I think the main people the recession has hurt are the people with dgsbig jewelry companies like Kay Jewelers,” says Morris. Brand name companies have to pay more money for their jewelry. People who make their own jewelry for a living can go to different jewelry craft stores and buy sterling silver, gems and jewels, Morris explained.

Morris, who sells her jewelry in Chicago but lives in Arizona, got started by turning her hobby into a business. “It started off as gifts for my friends and family. My friends would ask me to make jewelry for their friends, and that’s how my jewelry business started. [Additionally,] I was sick with an illness. I had no idea what I was going to do for a profession. I always knew I was a good at making jewelry,” says Morris.

To ensure that customers are happy with their purchase, her prices are always low. “I have something for everybody’s budget. Having affordable things will make the customer feel better about buying nicer things for less money,” says Morris.

The economy has hit the fashion industry hard. Fashion all over the world is known for having rich color and amazing designs. Some major brand names had to lower their prices or cut some of their promotion.

In the meantime, things have been going well for Mr. & Mrs. Digz boutique. Dlugolecka has even been able to open another boutique.  Now running two boutiques, Dlugolecka is working on her own clothing line called “Tune Up,” in which she is taking old vintages dress and redesigning them for fashion today.



Comment on this stiry in the Gloss Blog by clicking here!

Stormi Texas

Stormi Texas

Stormi Texas is a GMO staff writer.

She can be contacted at