As a long time fan of Altar’d States I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised to find their rapid and beautifully executed expansions throughout Houston. And then checking their website, I found their growth was not limited, but instead nationwide. For those of you unfamiliar, Altar’d States is a boutique, that originated out of Knoxville, TN, with unique southern styles and a vast selection of gifts and home decor. You may wonder, like I did, “what are they doing so different, to make their common concept work when all their competitors are quickly falling behind?” Well of course I hurried home to research; there is a point in time where we need to stop dwelling on what’s not working and begin brainstorming what is.
1. Forward Thinking- A strategy I have noticed that worked for Altar’d States up to this point was focusing on the midsized cities all the other retailers overlook, or consider as an afterthought. The strategy boils down to; are you going to find greater success as a big fish in a small pond, or a small fish in a big pond?
In 2012 no boutique would want to touch Midland, TX with a 10 foot pole, despite the giant oil boom causing a ridiculous influx of cash. To find help outside the oil profession was probably as likely as spotting a purple unicorn or even a rainbow in this dry desert, and the waves of boom and bust make the investment a real gamble. But like so many towns influenced by very specific and individual industries they saw the opportunity, took the gamble, and seized the day. “If you build it…” and boy has the support poured in. This sort of marketing takes foresight, and a patience to pace the growth of a company.
2. Philanthropy & Then Some– The entire backbone of the company is giving, as exhibited in the mission statement, to stand out for good and change the world for the better. In return for supporting their business, they will take 1% of your contribution and donate it to a local or international cause. This could be one of the 168 children they presently sponsor in Peru or some more pressing local matter. According to their website, to date Altar’d States has donated $3,257,226.
What other company offers 4 hours in compensation a month for employees to volunteer in the community?! There is a humbling sense of worth that comes from volunteering and reaching out to your community, and Altar’d States wants all their employees to maintain that mindset. According to their website, to date Altar’d States staff members have contributed 3,647 hours of outreach.
3. Hiring Knowledge- The biggest issue with growing boutiques is their inability to let go when they company has grown beyond their expertise. But Altar’d States recently recruited John Buelle, who worked for the past 13 years on the executive team of The Limited, ending his stint having made CEO. As Altar’d States grows beyond the borders of the small town niche they had created, Buelle will be the advisor on growth in larger ponds.
4. Training Staff- Training at Altar’d State is not a two day orientation but instead, with their investment and research in the great training resources available, all employees are trained each and everyday. Five minutes before every shift all employees utilize an app on their phone to find a bit of knowledge that will motivate them to strive everyday. What a great way to avoid burn out, and keep every employee current on all training.
5. The Experience- Since the beginning Altar’d States has offered a unique experience with open floor plans, and out of this world window displays. As they grow I have noticed that their trendy layouts have taken on a lush form of their own, and this Shopgirl is a huge fan! Each location seems to be uniquely different from the last. Making each new location and entirely new adventure for the eyes and mind.
Between the true successes of Altar’d States and Chick-Fil-A, perhaps the culture of kindness should be noted in all business plans.
Part of the April A to Z Challenge
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