I’m constantly torn between my deep devotion to innovative small businesses and boutiques like Grey Dog Vintage, my defensiveness of big retailers like Sam’s Club who do support small businesses and make it possible for them to thrive (and who have every bit as much right to capitalism and success!) and my desire for convenience.
Enter Btiques, one of the smartest startups to come out of Arkansas in the past year or so. I’ll go ahead and confess my bias: founder Sara Beck has been on my radar for well over a decade. We recently connected when I covered the Btiques launch party for Arkansas Life magazine, where I told my date for the evening, Paige Ray, that Sara was my first hire when I was far too young and naive to supervise anyone, and she laughingly told her husband that we worked together when she “didn’t even know how to BCC on email!”
Know this about Sara: that had to be the tail end of things she didn’t know. I snapped her up from a sea of enthusiastic college students because she was exceptionally sharp and enthusiastic, and I knew she fit my earliest (and evolving) definition of a rock star – in other words, someone to keep an eye on – and so I did, and quietly cheered for her from the sidelines. She went on to impressive career stepping stones with Anderson Merchandisers and Saatchi & Saatchi X.
Her next move took everyone’s breath away: she and her brother Will were named the winners of the Ark Challenge in November 2012 for a little idea they called Btiques. It had no small amount of media coverage, deservedly.
Here’s the thing about that idea of theirs: it didn’t blow the startup competitions and the eager press out of the water solely on its premise. The Btiques idea is a seriously ground-breaking concept that connects Main Street businesses with the ability to harness e-commerce. Download the free Btiques app from the iTunes store, browse the wares of boutiques from across Arkansas (and far beyond!) and your goodies are delivered to your doorstep.
Let me speak firsthand about how they are knocking it out of the park: a few months ago, I jumped in on a Facebook contest to like their page (naturally) and spread the love. I did it out of sheer support for Sara, and then ironically won a gift card giveaway. It was a perfect opportunity to check out Btiques firsthand, so I finally forced myself to narrow down my choices and place an order.
Shipping is free for orders over $100, by the way. So – I picked a super chilly day in early December and shopped some of my favorite area boutiques from the comfort of home in my pajamas. I placed the order around 10a on December 4, and the postman was knocking on my door to deliver it the next day at 3p. Are you kidding me? That’s incredibly impressive. In fact, I was so impressed with the overall experience that I mentioned to Sara I intended to do a quick blog post on Btiques as a great example of business – and innovation – nailed. She was delightful enough – as usual – to offer a discount if you’d care to give them a whirl!
$10 off your purchase of $30 or more with code BTIQUES10
Send a little love to an Arkansas startup and support local boutiques and a fantastic business model all rolled into one lovely package. You can also nab a gift card, sign up for the Btiques INsider blog, and follow the fun on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter… and if you know of a boutique that might like to jump in, they can reserve a page here.