New children's clothing store opens in the Atrium
August 20, 2020
Always and Forever Kids Clothing Boutique held a soft launch in the Atrium last week to test the waters for what prospective customers are looking for.
Business owner Carissa Anderson said the store currently carries girls' clothes size zero to 12 and boys' clothes sizes zero to five.
She said her aim in opening this store is to fill a void she has noticed in the area for a brick-and-mortar children's clothing store and she hopes the feedback she gets from people during this soft opening will help her get a handle on what people are looking for in terms of items and sizes.
"I'm kind of just generating a scale of what I need more of," Anderson said.
Anderson, 33, was born in Havre and has lived in town all her life along with her extended family.
"I'm also the mother of six kids and two step-kids, so I like to stay busy," she said.
She described her store as a higher-brand kids clothing store and she's looking to expand her inventory as time goes on with the long-term goal of the business to becoming a full service children's store by the beginning of next year.
Anderson has six children and two stepchildren and said she speaks from experience when she says that Havre could benefit from having a more-accessible children's clothes store.
"We don't really have a kids store," she said, "I mean we have Walmart, but not everyone likes to go shopping for kids' clothes at Walmart."
"It's not convenient when you're like, 'Oh, one of them grew out of their pants I need to run up to the store,' no, you have to wait until they grow out of everything so you can run up to Great Falls," she added.
Anderson said shopping for things online is certainly convenient, but it's a much more complicated prospect with clothes where people can find only after something has shipped that it doesn't really fit or doesn't look like the picture on the screen.
She said this is especially true during the pandemic when many companies are a bit cagey about taking returns.
Anderson said the pandemic has certainly made the opening of her business more tricky but has not delayed her plans.
In the early stages of getting her business set up she was determining what brands to stock and what companies to buy from, she said, and encountered considerable supply line complications while working with companies that ship from overseas.
"That was definitely the biggest challenge," she said.
She said the brands and vendors she eventually chose ship within the U.S. and that was a determining factor in her decision.
Anderson said she has a roadmap for incrementally expanding her inventory over the next few months.
"Right now, we have just clothes, but in September I'm hoping to add swimsuits, in October we're thinking about adding socks and underwear and shoes, in November we'll have jackets, and possibly toys by then," she said. "But eventually we'd like to be a full-service children's store, hopefully by the beginning of next year... a one-stop kind of thing."
She said the kind of business she gets from the soft launch will give her a better idea of the speed at which all these developments will end up happening in the end.
Anderson said she is also going to fashion design school at, and she eventually hopes to be able to fill the store with her own designs as well.
"The idea is to set up a kids store with other brands and to finish out school through the University of Art in California, and hopefully in the distant future I'll be designing my own clothes," she said. "But as of right now we're setting up the story as basic boutique... that is the very long-term goal."
She said the Atrium is slow these days and she doesn't know if that's due to the pandemic, or a lack of knowledge about the new businesses that have opened recently, but now that the mall is effectively full she's hoping things will pick up when the pandemic dies down.
"I remember when I was a kid, the Atrium was full and it was the place we went to shop," she said, "... But I feel like the Atrium is starting to fill again and I'm hoping it's going to become the new mall for Havre."
"I feel like it's going to be the new place to go," she added.