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Boutique offers unique experience

Ma Maison owner uses creative strategies to attract, keep customers during economic downturn

Posted: September 3, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: September 3, 2011 1:30 a.m.

Ma Maison owner/operator Ede Eichmann poses with home-décor items at her store in Valencia.

 

Ma Maison, a gifts and home accents décor boutique, celebrated its eight-year anniversary last week.

The independent retailer has operated next to Kohl’s department store in the Valencia Crossroads shopping centre and not merely surviving, but thriving.

Named one of the 50 Best and Brightest retail stars in 2010 by an industry trade magazine, Ma Maison was recognized for operating successfully in its marketing area.

Focusing on independent retailers, Home Accents magazine editors and research analysts selected Ma Maison for its strength in merchandising, display, marketing and its presence in the local community.

Owner/operator Ede Eichmann, a 20-year local resident, reported $400,000 in annual sales.

“I’m pretty proud of us,” Eichmann said. “It’s been a hurdle for sure; it hasn’t been that easy.”

Hurdles
Opened in 2003, the boutique originally operated under the name “Madalian,” named for Eichmann’s mother, whose name was “Dalian.”

“We changed the name four years ago,” Eichmann said. “No one could find the store name in the yellow pages or through Google searches because of the unique spelling.”

Selling home décor items, the owner changed the name to Ma Maison, translating to “my home” in French.

A few years ago, the 15-year old son of Eichmann’s original partner, Katie LaKamp, died in a tragic accident, changing her life forever, Eichmann said. LaKamp eventually left the boutique, and Eichmann bought her shares of the store, she said.

Small retailer

With four employees running the store, including Eichmann, the retail staff is composed of all former customers who know the boutique business and are enthusiastic ambassadors for the merchandise.

Running a boutique in 1,200 square feet of floor space can be challenging, but Eichmann mixes things up by changing the displays weekly and rotating front-window merchandise two to three times weekly to keep items fresh.

Home accent décor items occupy about 30 percent of the space but account for one-half of the sales. Ma Maison also carries accent furniture pieces and other merchandise, including items from her own collection of gift items, which Eichmann designs herself.

With an educational background in accounting, Eichmann considers herself ready to take on any task, saying she’ll do whatever it takes to run a successful retail boutique.

“In general, I would consider myself an entrepreneur,” she said. “I like to get my hands in everything.”

Getting creative
Ma Maison has been very creative to survive the economic downturn.

“We have a layaway service,” Eichmann said. “It’s really been good for our business.”
Ma Maison also brought in more affordable gifts during the recession so the boutique could offer something for everyone’s budget.

“We also didn’t skimp on the free services we offered,” Eichmann said. “We didn’t want to take those perks away.”

“When you’re watching your money and spending it wisely, you want to do business with a company that’s doing something for you,” she said.

Holding what Eichmann calls “trunk shows,” Eichmann invited the public to bring in their wares to buy and sell, as well.

“The term goes back to the old times when literally a person would put all their wares into a trunk and take it around to stores to sell, like a traveling salesperson,” she said.

The trunk shows draw a new crowd and allow Ma Maison to take items in for sale on consignment. It also allows the
store to continuously feature new products.

“It helps me, as a store owner, to see what works for customers and what to buy for the store, minimizing my risks,” Eichmann said.

“Best Boutique”
Voted by Signal readers as the Best Boutique in 2006, Ma Maison also showcased local artists last weekend when it held an anniversary celebration.

“My grandpa, grandma and dad all owned their own businesses,” Eichmann said. “I have an appreciation for how a business operates because of my family members.”

Ma Maison is located at 24266 Valencia Blvd., Valencia and be reached at (661) 799-7983 or online at www.ma-maisonandgift.com.

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