About a year after Wee Chic opened in the Mosaic District, COVID-19 restrictions temporarily closed the brick and mortar store. Now, the newly reopened kids’ clothing boutique is preparing for the fall.
Started in Maryland a little more than 10 years ago, Wee Chic made a quick pivot to e-commerce with curated boxes and an online store this spring. Just like owner Bridget Quinn Stickline predicted back in May, the reopened stores are currently offering steep discounts as Wee Chic looks to shed excess inventory and make way for fall clothing.
“We still have too much inventory,” Stickline told Tysons Reporter in mid-July. “Currently, we’re selling product up to 60% off. This is the good stuff that would have sold full price.”
With fall approaching, Wee Chic plans to make changes again — a “giant pivot cycle” as Stickline calls it — to keep the business going during the pandemic. Stickline stressed that the store is committed to serving shoppers with various comfort levels around COVID-19 precautions, from in-store browsing with required face coverings to online shopping.
Curated Boxes Returning
Wee Chic first promoted its curated “Shop Box” in the spring to help with the inventory overload, but put a pause on the box due to the summer sale.
As the store now looks to move away from being heavily discounted, Stickline said that she plans to relaunch the box for fall merchandise.
Here’s how the box works: employees talk to shoppers over the phone to pick out 10-20 pieces, which can include multiple sizes. When the box arrives, kids try on the clothes and parents send back whatever they don’t want. Shoppers who keep a certain number of pieces get a percentage off their entire order.
Because the box is not a subscription model, Stickline said that her employees work hard to pick out the right products.
“[Subscription services] have a chance to get it right,” Stickline said. “In our model, it’s one box. That one box has to be good enough.”
Stickline noted that while Wee Chic had been offering the box for awhile, the store hadn’t given it a name or marketing until the pandemic.
Bringing back the box isn’t the only upcoming move for the fall. Wee Chic is also looking to start a loyalty program — “Something we’ve wanted to do for a long time,” according to Stickline.
Stickline sees the loyalty program as a way to make her customers feel appreciated and also ease any strain on their wallets from the pandemic.
“Everyone I think is more concerned about spending right now,” she said.
Regular customers might notice some changes to Wee Chic’s inventory this fall. Unlike previous years, the store is now looking to reduce its party dresses and ramp up its toy and gift options as the pandemic affects clothing demand.
Wee Chic is also selling masks for kids and tweens, which Stickline calls “a little bit of a heartbreaker.” The masks include pastel colors, sharks, unicorns, corgis and more. ”
“You still have to buy clothes,” Stickline said. “Some kids are going back to schools a few days a week.”
Even for families and school systems opting for fully virtual learning, Stickline noted that kids outgrow clothes quickly.
Parents normally have to size up for a few or all of their kids’ clothing pieces every season, with ages 2-5 usually seeing the fastest growth and ages 6-8 most likely for growth spurts, Stickline said.
Online Wish List
When the pandemic prompted social distancing and canceled in-person events, Stickline noticed that shoppers started to spend more on kids’ presents.
“I feel like people are giving slightly nicer gifts because they can’t go to showers,” she said. “[People] want to make more of a gesture. You’re sad for a kid who can’t have a birthday party when they’re 6.”
In pre-COVID times, kids could pick out items in the store for wish lists. Now, work is underway to create an online registry.
Stickline sees the online wish list as a way for would-be guests to send “a big box full of fun” to kids and their families celebrating birthdays and holidays.
“The role I see for us in the world as a business is we’re here to spread some cheer and make things better,” she said.
Photo via Wee Chic/Facebook