A visitor to the recently opened Luci's Boutique in Atlanta is immediately struck with one strong impression. This is a family-oriented business.
First, everyone's talking. It's hard to tell customers from the salespeople.
Second, the store is wide open, spacious, well-lighted, clean and quite creative. It's like a living room.
Thirdly, when you do speak, you'll be treated immediately like a friend because the ones assisting you are a wife, brother, mother, sister and very likely a cousin.
Here's who you will meet. Luci Rabe is the owner and wife. She has created almost everything here. Phillip Rabe is her husband. He designs and makes custom t-shirts right on the spot.
Then, there's Wendy Tanner, who is Phillip's sister and has her own line of creative items called "Lollipops." Even the business name was created by the grandchildren in the family.
Mother to the group is Jerrie Russell. She's in the background but contributing a leadership, do-it-all role.
Finally, cousin Breanne Brown is owner and designer of her own line of created items called "Oopsie Daisy -- handmade items with love." She also has space here.
Almost every item and space in Luci's Boutique is filled with, or energized by, a family member.
If this weren't enough to bring such a store to life, here is a decisive store asset, one that knocks the ball out of the park by defeating COVID-19. Luci's Boutique has grown and prospered in the midst of a pandemic.
The business plan was this. First, find the distributors of creative items or make them yourself, being careful to personally know the customer. Second, price the items reasonably, such as an amount you personally would pay. Then provide the shopping display area or online. And when the item comes in, deliver it for free.
"We were so surprised how well this worked," Luci Rabe said. "People might not be able to get out or travel but they liked to shop with us, especially online. Then, we made arrangements to meet them, such as going to Texarkana once a week, and delivered their purchases.
"We started in my home and online and sales just exploded. Within six months, I quit my other full-time job to fulfill this dream."
Thus the idea of exceptional knowledge and contact with customer, creative product research, considerate pricing and then free delivery filled the vacuum created by COVID discouragement and shopping disruption.
"COVID didn't affect us at all. In fact, we grew. I think the Lord initiated the whole thing. That's my story," Luci said.
Finally, Luci's Boutique reflects one further business idea, an idea which preceded everything, Luci said.
"We've based everything on the Lord and caring for other people," Luci begins to explain. "Our store is really as much of an outreach effort to help others. That means we listen to every one of our customers who comes in, calls or is online.
"I'm here every day to greet, talk and follow each other on Facebook. We have a group and post. We're involved in their lives. Sometimes everyone is struggling. Let me give an encouraging word. It's not only doing what I love ... selling clothes ... but we talk and pray for people, sometimes right here in the store.
"I don't know about other stores, if ours is unique or not, but we're succeeding because we try to uplift people."