SPRING HILL — Building relationships with customers has kept them coming back to Fine Lines Boutique, a cottage-size women's shop that's big on style.
Over the past 15 years, personal attention has built buyers so loyal that they bring visiting friends and family to shop, as well, owners Janet Schuller and Lois Dias say.
Word of mouth has fostered new patrons, a good thing since the shop doesn't advertise and, although it carries a Mariner Boulevard address, the storefront in Mariner Village East isn't visible from the main thoroughfare.
Those who find the boutique are often bedazzled by the upscale "casual, classy sports, cruisey" wear, as Schuller describes it, along with one-of-a-kind handbags, understated accessories and high-end costume jewelry.
"All the companies we buy from," Dias said, "don't sell to department stores, only to boutiques."
Added Schuller: "We don't buy more than four of a kind of anything, so you don't see yourself coming. Women like different."
That's especially important in small communities, Dias said.
Even when Schuller and Dias shop among wholesale fashion houses, they do so with particular customers in mind. For instance, "customers will tell us they have a wedding coming up, and we buy (appropriately) for them," Dias said.
Also, the duo has a knack for putting together ensembles. If a patron were to choose a smartly styled and fitted dress, Schuller or Dias will dash off to their accessory collection for a necklace or scarf to complete the look.
On a recent Thursday, regular customer Jane Henkel of Weeki Wachee breezed in to look at jewelry for an upcoming wedding.
"They have statement jewelry," Henkel said. "And then, of course, I found something else."
The latter was a short cape jacket of a silky jersey feel, Schuller's suggestion in case the wedding weekend up North turned chilly.
"I'm really a boutique shopper, and they know me," Henkel said.
As for fabrics and manufacturers, Schuller said, "They are different from when we started." She called current U.S.-made fabrics "garbage." Much of today's boutique wear is of European fabric sewn into garments by Canadian companies, Schuller said. Additionally, they say their garments don't require dry cleaning.
"We're always looking for new and different," she said.
Fringe and lace are big for fall. The look of denim is being transposed to jersey and silky fabrics, often stitched with lace or highlighted with attached faux jewels. Embroidered garments continue to sell.
Fine Lines Boutique also sponsors a fundraising fashion show annually. In April, 300 attendees helped to raise $10,500 for the Crescent Community Clinic in Spring Hill. The next fashion event will benefit the Hernando County Education Foundation, with details to be announced at a later date.
Contact Beth Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.