ST. PETER — When Lisa Eide decided to found a women’s boutique and lifestyle store, she had a specific goal in mind that wasn’t profit-driven.
“I said I needed a place to be happy and be myself,” Eide explained. “It has evolved to include everyone else. Our goal is to make everyone happier. It’s not to sell a certain number of jeans.”
As her husband’s partner in their lawn care and snow removal company, Eide logged 28 years of firsthand experience in running a small business. Once her four children and two stepchildren graduated, Eide decided that she wanted a new challenge.
“I was ready to venture out and do my own thing,” Eide said. She had played with the idea of starting her own boutique for years, but knew that in order to bring her dream to life, she would have to make some thrifty choices. Rather than take out a loan, Eide started by selling repurposed furniture out of her home and reinvesting the profits back into her business. With time and dedication, she was able to open a physical storefront in Jordan. She eventually settled on St. Peter area her long-term location.
I got to know the community and it was very quaint and friendly and a little old fashioned,” Eide said. “People are still really connected and friendly.”
This suited Eide and her business model perfectly. Eide wanted her customers to experience something exceptional that didn’t just center around commerce. Ideally, she hoped that they would find a community by visiting her store.
“I would describe it as more of a social place than a place of selling,” Eide said. The aptly-named Her Happy Place carries a wide selection of home décor, women’s fashion, accessories, and gifts.
Customer service is especially important.
“When the customer comes in the door, why did they come in the door?” is the question Eide tells her employees to ask themselves. “Why are they out shopping today, what are they truly looking to get out of their day?”
In Eide’s perspective, putting herself in the customer’s shoes is the best way to ensure that they will enjoy their time in Her Happy Place and leave satisfied.
“If you’re friendly and welcoming, it’s pretty easy to help them out,” Eide said.
Andrea Kenyon, an employee at Her Happy Place since October 2019, said she loves seeing the smiles on customers’ faces when they find that perfect item.
“We ask the people what they need, what they’re looking for, and we also point out all the fun things we have that you can’t find in other boutiques,” Kenyon said. “I think everybody should come see us at least once. If they have suggestions, let Lisa or the employees know because we’re always happy to listen.”
Eide takes the commitment to friendliness and hospitality a step farther with weekly events. Prior to the COIVD-19 restrictions, she hired a bartender and caterer every Saturday, and provided free refreshments to shoppers.
The reward for Eide’s extra effort has been a supportive and invested community. Eide’s visitors tend to be repeat customers after their first experience.
“I know that I’ve made a lot of relationships in this,” Eide said. “We get to know more about them: their favorite style of jeans, how they live in their house, how they celebrate. Truly, my customers are my friends – it’s fun to have 300 friends!”
Her Happy Place provides Eide with an outlet for her natural purchasing talent.
“I love digging for a deal,” Eide admitted. “I like the creativity part of it. My whole business is based off of me being a good shopper.” While some boutiques opt to work exclusively with a few wholesalers, Eide prefers partnering directly with warehouses in order to snag bargains.
“My customers say I have Target prices on boutique items,” Eide said.
Eide frequently makes special orders if customers are searching for something specific, but also monitors the trends in Europe and on the coasts.
“Sometimes I introduce things that we’re not quite ready for to let people know they’re coming,” Eide said. When knotted shirts became the rage, she brought them into her store – but with one modification.
“If you’ve had four children, you can’t do that!” Eide said of the midriff-baring style. “I introduced lower knotted shirts that have been very popular.”
Currently, Eide is featuring a variety of loungewear and cozy-yet-polished clothing pieces for her stay-at-home clients.
“I call it ‘mullet fashion’: Business up top, party on the bottom!” Eide laughed. “Everyone’s online, and they’re wearing sweatpants and joggers. I’ve jumped on that because that’s what people are looking for.”
Although Eide follows current styles, her goal is still to make Her Happy Place more than just another trendy storefront. She stocks favorite staples like leggings and tank tops, but tries to preserve exclusivity by only carrying new fashion pieces.
“What I love is we still have that boutique feel,” said Eide. “I don’t reorder other than basics. When it’s gone, it’s gone.”
Once Coronavirus precautions have become unnecessary, Eide hopes to go back to hosting her catered Saturdays and visiting with her customers. Until then, she is doing her best to provide her trademark level of customer service with online sales and personalized help.
“I feel like I’ve found my spot,” Eide said. “Come check it out! I think you’ll like it.”