REAL(ity) RETAIL: “It’s Not About What You Pour, It’s About How You Pour It”

When we started Atlanta Activewear in 2009, the activewear industry was in its infancy and we reaped the benefits of being one of the very first independent activewear retailers. As time has gone on and every fashion brand has launched its own version of activewear, from H&M to Tory Burch, we find that our store has become an inspiration for concepts popping up within a few miles from our location. We’ve all been there – a store opens nearby and upon research, we learn they are carrying the same brands and have opened up a bigger, brighter, newer version similar to what we’re offering at our store. It pulls at your heartstrings, and the frustration mounts as your customers shop the new store over yours. As we sat over drinks with a local restaurateur wondering our next step, he said to us…

We all pour the same drinks, but it’s not about what you pour, it’s about how you pour it.”

That statement inspired us to stop focusing so much on the product and continue doing what we had set out to do, revolutionize the activewear experience by creating a place that combined luxury styling sessions with fashionable athletic wear.  Our friend was right, you could find our products in multiple places, and we found it was the customer service that kept people coming back. We quickly realized this was the reason Atlanta Activewear had not only become one of the most popular boutiques in Atlanta, but was also considered a top boutique in the industry. While customers had shopped the new boutique once or twice, they found they couldn’t beat the experience that our store gave them and we saw an increase in UPT (units per transaction).

As in any industry, competition is common and you have to be at the top of your game to keep your business in the lead. At Atlanta Activewear, we focus on personal styling of every customer that walks through the door and, while you can buy black leggings anywhere today, there aren’t many people who can tell you which brand works best for you and your body, just by looking at you. While we may sell the same things as other boutiques in our area, we have realized that no one can compete with the unique expertise that we offer.

Today’s consumer is educated and isn’t making a blind purchase. Many of them have shopped online prior to shopping in our store. We are competing with our own brands online as well as larger retailers, but our customer experience is what takes the trip to our store from “show-rooming” to a completed purchase. We believe in educating our customers on every aspect of the product which, in-turn, leaves them with the comfort that they have made the correct choice and don’t need to go anywhere else. Because we can interact with our clients and educate them on a product or brand, we can create a connection that keeps them coming back.

We train our employees to be personal shoppers, not sales associates. We call our sales approach “wardrobing” and our employees are asked to find out at least 3 bits of personal information about each client they help while analyzing that information to create a wardrobe inside their fitting room. We also feel strongly that there should never be only a single item inside of a dressing room. Ever.  We give the whole package during the fitting experience and let the customer decide what’s right for them and what they feel best in.

At the end of the day, the connection with our customers makes every part of this crazy retail world worthwhile. Creating that relationship with them allows us to be able to call our clients friends, and love every minute of helping them dress for their lives. We are the first to know about babies and life changes, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. When we started, we thought we were just selling activewear, but today, we know that the experience has changed lives, one pair of leggings at a time.

Contributed by sisters and owners of Atlanta Activewear.

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