Today is the second in our new “Store Spotlight” series, where we feature a premiere le•top specialty retail store each week. Read more for an exclusive Q&A and “sneak peak” images of our featured store of the week!
This week we had the chance to interview one of Rhode Island and Connecticut’s finest boutiques, Teddy Bearskins. Meet the proud owners, Bob and Debra Semple and read about their 3 boutiques!
We want to give you the inside scoop on Teddy Bearskins’ latest and greatest news, and what YOU don’t know about a few of the East Coast’s cutest childrenswear stores.
1. How did you get started with Teddy Bearskins?
Bob: Debra made all the clothes in our first store. I remember it was a very small store, but within 2 years, we had 2 bigger stores, and 3 stores after 5 years.
2. What was your and Bob’s background prior to this business?
Debra: Bob was in advertising and sales management prior to entering the childrenswear business
Bob: Deb was a home economics teacher, and also had a business degree. She [Deb] is by nature a fashion designer!
3. Teddy Bearskins is a distinctive store name – does it have any special history?
Bob & Debra: The name Teddy Bearskins just had a great ring to it, and our favorite place was Bearskin Neck in Rockport, Massachusetts.
4. Why Rhode Island and Connecticut? How did you pick these unique locations?
Debra: Bob moved to Rhode Island in 1983 for business, and unfortunately there were no teaching jobs. Our twins at the time were 3-years-old so we opted to start our own business.
Bob & Debra: Of our three stores, we would describe each as:
- Wickford Location ~ “Historic seaport village, and very quaint.”
- Mystic Location ~ “ A historic seaport and tourist area.”
- Barrington Location ~ “A high-end village bedroom community of Providence.”
6. Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product?
Debra: I would say our target customers are Grandparents, Parents, and Relatives of a newborn. We have a wide range of pricing.
8. Any Celebrity customers over the years or do you have any celebs buying right now?
Bob & Debra: Jane Pauley, Montel Williams, several soap opera stars, and many professional sports athletes. Other clients include many of the Rhode Island TV personalities!
9. What’s coming up for Teddy Bearskins? You have 3 stores and an online store – will there be a 4th store in the near future?
Bob & Debra: We are always considering some moves!
Bob & Debra: We have everything you might need or want for your child or grandchild – from birth to size 20. We have customers from all over the country who stop in, call or even email us since they know we will have what they need or want.
Bob & Debra:
- Customer Service
- Hard Work, Hard Work, Hard Work!
12. How do you select your products for the store?
Debra: I listen to my customers and also use my instinct and gut feelings.
14. If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Bob & Debra: Make sure you know you will love retail. It’s 24/7, and if you do not want to put in 110%, do not open a store.
Bob & Debra: Keep it simple, give your child 3 choices, when asking their advice. And keep their personality in mind when making a selection. Do not give in to tantrums.
16. You probably have seen thousands of parents and their children come in-and-out of all 3 of your store doors – what is one of the funniest things you have heard come out of parent or child’s mouth?
Bob & Debra: Nothing stands out at the moment. We have wonderful relationships with our customers, many laughs, great customers. It’s a big family and great fun. The kids always enjoy coming to our Teddy Bearskins locations.
17. What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Debra: One of My favorite customers passed away and she requested in her eulogy that they mention how she loved Teddy Bearskins.