Petticoat Fair Retail Spotlight
“Every woman is treated with respect and given one-on-one attention to help her feel comfortable and confident in properly fitted undergarments.” – Petticoat Fair.
The Petticoat Fair team elevates bra fitting and customer service to an art form. Walk into their 9,000 square foot boutique and between 6 – 10 fitters are ready to help you find exactly what you’re looking for.
What’s even more amazing, is that Petticoat Fair has been helping customers since 1964! Their passion and commitment to their customers exemplifies what makes the intimate apparel world wonderful. And today, we’re giving our readers some lovely insights into how this Austin-based boutique started and what it’s all about with a Q&A with Petticoat Fair’s Kali Andrews. Special thanks to Sue and Rita of Mad Mac Lingerie for introducing us to the boutique!
Q&A with Kali Andrews, Petticoat Fair
Bob and Betty Andrews owned two dress shops on a street known in Austin as The Drag, across the street from The University of Texas. They noticed a lack of offerings for undergarments and in 1964 decided to open another store solely focusing on that area. Women flocked to the store and they knew they had something good here, so they closed their dress shops to focus their energy on Petticoat Fair. Instead of having a store focused on bras alone, Bob wanted Petticoat Fair to have everything, foundations, shapewear and sleepwear – eventually swimwear. A one stop shop for women in Austin.
Reading up on the history of Petticoat Fair, the emphasis on fit stems from Betty’s experience and knowledge gained in courtesies school. Could you give us some insights how this influences the boutique and staff?
Betty was trained in an era where there were extensive courses offered in fitting. The courses could run as long as a couple of weeks and dealt with topics such as garment construction, technical fitting, breast and lymph node anatomy, etc. You just don’t find this level or training anymore, that being said, most of our knowledge is passed down from Betty and the wonderful women who have worked here for years.
Our training program takes about three months to complete. One fitting specialist has been working for Petticoat Fair for 22 years, a lot of the others 3 – 8 years. The knowledge that they have on all of our products is unbelievable at times. Bob and Betty, as well as Kirk have always put customer service first.
We are a full service lingerie boutique that works one-on-one with all of our customers. We keep all of our bras in a back stockroom and will only bring options that we, as professional fitters, recommend based on what you are looking for, your everyday lifestyle or specific occasion and of course, your correct bra size.
Fit and customer service are a huge focus at Petticoat Fair, could you walk us through what a customer experiences walking through your boutique’s door for the first time?
When a customer walks in for the first time it can be a little overwhelming. We are almost 9,000 square feet, so our sales floor is very extensive. We keep all of our bras in a stock room so a lot of time we get the “but where are all of the bras!” comments. So, we have a sign in sheet at the front counter, our customers will sign in and wait for an available fitter. We have 6-10 fitters on any given day, so the wait typically isn’t very long. From there we will take the customer back into one of our 18 fitting rooms and discuss what they are shopping for today. We will take measurements and go and grab a couple items for them to try on and for us to get the correct sizing. All the customer has to do is wait comfortably in the room for us to return. We do this with bras, sleepwear, shapewear, and swimwear, it’s almost like having a personal shopper!
We’d love to know more about the Petticoat Fair team, could you give us an overview of the team?
We’ve got a great team. Kirk Andrews now owns the store, you won’t see him on the sales floor, he stays in the back and lets us ladies do the selling. Kali Andrews is our buyer, on the weekends you can find her fitting as well. We’ve got 10 fitters, 1 is post-mastectomy trained and another is in the training process. We have 1 full time cashier, 1 part time cashier and 2 ladies in the back to help with special orders, freight check in and day to day back end operations. Our fitter Julie has been with us 22 years now, our two newest fitters have been here a year and everyone else has been here 4-8 years.
How is Petticoat Fair adapting to changing consumer habits like online shopping and social media?
We are constantly updating our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to reach that audience. We also have our own online store to make it easier for our customers to reorder their favorite items. We also offer in-store incentives to try and keep our customers coming back. Nothing beats an in-store personal fitting, we always have customers who come in for the first time in years who turned to online shopping for convenience. Eventually you change shape/size/style and it’s not comfortable anymore… so they end up coming back in and telling us that they won’t be shopping online anymore!
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing both retailers and brands in the next few years? How do you see Petticoat Fair adapting?
I think one of the biggest challenges our industry faces are the online stores/department stores that constantly discount merchandise and offer coupons, effectively lowering the value of the lingerie and the brands. Luckily some of the leading manufacturers have created MAP policies to protect brick and mortar stores like ours. Personally we have decided to price match, mainly due to the fact that most of the basic re-orderable items are rarely marked down online due to the new MAP policies put in place.
What are some current bestselling brands at the boutique?
Our top selling brands are, Eveden Group, Wacoal, Natori, Panache and Chantelle
Are there any events coming up that we can help spread the word about?
We are working with Anita to have their 130 Movement Event in store sometime in November.
What’s next for Petticoat Fair in 2017?
We’re going to continue helping every woman feel comfortable and supported. We hope to grow, as any store would year after year!
Learn more about Petticoat Fair
7739 Northcross Drive
Austin, TX 78757