Posted Apr 3rd, 2019 in Retail Roundup
Personal service is a common thread in Downtown Wilmington stores because many of the merchants operate their businesses as an extension of their personalities. They live and breathe every aspect of their business on a daily basis and want their customers to have a great experience each time they visit.
Joan Elizabeth Smith, owner of Elizabeth’s Trés Chic in the Cotton Exchange takes the time to get to know her customers and quickly hones in on a style that will work for them. Joan says she wants customers to feel good about themselves and recalls a time when one lady who visited was so happy with the mix-and-match clothes Joan recommended for her, she cried!
Joan prefers to stock clothes from a small number of designers and a dozen well-known brands. April Cornell is her favorite brand with Paper Lace being a close second because the designer gives her some input with the styles. Joan specializes in vintage clothing that reflects the early 20th century and the 1920s eras.
Although clothing in the late 19th century was very stiff and formal, styles became more whimsical in the early 1900s and featured loose-fitting dresses and long, tunic-like jackets. Pastel colors, lace and brocade were popular and clothing was made from natural fabrics like cotton and linen. These styles were very radical then but were still very feminine. That’s what Joan seeks to replicate in her store.
Joan was raised wearing very feminine clothes because her mom was a designer who made all her dresses. She learned from an early age how to put outfits together and how to match colors. Joan uses this knowledge and the personal service skills she developed at Ivey’s (which later became Dillard’s) to dress her customers and boost their confidence. She says, “I paint a palate for my customers.”
Joan feels it is more difficult for women over the age of 35 to find high-quality garments that fit and look good on a mature figure, hence the store’s slogan, “Enjoy being a girl!”
Hours: Mon – Sat, 10:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., Sun, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Elizabeth's Tres Chic
305 N Front St
Wilmington, NC 28401