Blue Arrow Boutique expansion targets customer demand
A sister storefront, Spaces by Blue Arrow, hosted its grand opening Tuesday, July 20.
Blue Arrow Boutique is doubling its footprint.
The Tower Avenue business launched a second storefront, Spaces by Blue Arrow, at 1410 Tower Ave., Tuesday, July 20. While the original shop will remain the same, the sister site offers a complementary space full of gift items, home decor and possibilities a few doors down.
Co-owners Aimee Glonek and Anndrea Ploeger said they’ve been interested in expanding for years, and they’ve been eyeing 1410 Tower Ave. since the Superior Telegram moved out. The Telegram now shares an office with the Duluth News Tribune, 424 W. 1st St., Duluth.
Changes wrought by the pandemic, and the ability to snag Savanna Schatz as manager for the new store, made this the right time to take the dive.
“We’ve got the right people, the right space, the right time,” Glonek said.
They didn’t second-guess themselves or spend much time weighing the pros and cons, she said, they just fired ahead.
“It’s just like last time,” Ploeger said.
Blue Arrow opened at 1404 Tower Ave. in July 2014. The boutique clothing store built a strong customer base evenly split between Duluth and Superior, and launched its own blue label clothing line in 2017. It currently employs six people.
When the pandemic hit and the demand for new, trendy clothing fell, the Superior shop pivoted to give customers what they wanted — sweatpants and sweatshirts — and sought a new path.
“Several months into the new year, this year, we were kind of puzzled as to what Blue Arrow should continue to be. We have to evolve, we have to adapt, we have to change,” Glonek said.
They surveyed customers and, based on the response, added home decor and gift items. Stretched for space, they decided to expand. Two months ago, they had to pivot again.
“All of a sudden people needed to buy clothing again because things were opening up and people were going back to work,” Glonek said.
The surge in clothing sales occurred right as the owners signed the lease for the second storefront.
“And now we can’t keep a dress on the floor. Everyone needs a dress. Everyone has a wedding or a baby shower or a graduation party,” Schatz said.
It’s been fun to stretch their creativity and build out the new store, Ploeger said. In addition to gifts and home decor items, the back section of the new store is an open gathering spot.
“Like with there being a need for home decor, there’s also a need for an intimate event space,” Schatz said. “We have the space back there to do that which has a little kitchenette and a private room with a bathroom and everything.”
The owners envision it being used for classes, birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, even bachelorette parties. It can also serve as a rental space for pop-up shops.
Blue Arrow isn’t changing, Schatz said. It will continue to offer everything it currently does.
“It’s not a move; it’s an expansion," she said.
The two storefronts will be open during the same hours and have the same vibe.
“We’re still the same people and our values and business are still the same," Ploeger said. "Our customers are important, so that will continue over here. We order what they want over there, what they want over here.”