It's hard to resist the lure of big box stores this time of year. The turkeys are cheaper. The deals are abundant. You can usually cross all the items on your list off in one convenient shop.
But in advance of Small Business Saturday, Oakton Patch is highlighting small businesses in our area, including Tabby Cat.
Read a question-and-answer session with the store's owner, Alex Craige.
Give us a little history behind the Tabby Cat. When did you open? Why did you choose Oakton?
The Tabby Cat opened Fall 2010, same as Oakton Patch! I choose Oakton because Oakton & Vienna have a great sense of community, great schools and LOTS of families! I wanted to open my own small business and after over six years working at the Toy Corner people were still craving having a local children’s clothing store in Oakton – thus the Tabby Cat. Yes, it is named after my FIVE Tabby Cats at home. And the logo is a combination of our kitties Sterling (the pretty one) & Lee (the fat one).
What are some of your most popular items people are buying this time of year?
I can’t point my finger at ONE item in the store that’s doing better than another – clothing is so personal to the buyer and the shopper. Very different than toys where you can say for example: science kits are the most popular gift of the season.
Why is Small Business Saturday important to you?
This Small Business Saturday is even more important than last year. We like all the small business were really effected this summer with the July storm power outages and Hurricane Sandy. Business really dwindles to a stop when these types of events occur it becomes really hard to recover from. It’s almost like having a birthday at the store last year on Small Business Saturday – a lot of our regular customers made points of coming in and shopping with us that day. I was quite exhausted but on an emotional high because so many people want to see The Tabby Cat continue in Oakton for a long time and showed it by supporting us that day!
What is your store doing to celebrate Small Business Saturday?
We are offering 10% off everything in the store off including sale items which are marked to 40% off on Small Business Saturday AND because we want you to visit our fellow retailers at Hunter Mill Plaza if you bring in a receipt from Oakton Wine Shop you can get an EXTRA 5% off including sale items which are marked to 40% off.
Your children's clothing store is competing in a market filled with big box stores. What are some challenges you face in that business environment?
Unique. My goal is to offer children’s clothes that are unique and well made at an acceptable price range. I have stayed away from the upper end of the children’s clothing market, as I think that parents and grandparents are more practical shoppers than they use to be. A dress needs to be viewed as being able to wore on multiple occasions and not just for one event. Most of the clothes that kids wear are for school or play so the clothes have to reflect that they are going to wash well, still be stylish and not everyone with the same outfit. If I hear that a manufacture has decided to go to a big box store, I almost always discontinue carrying it at The Tabby Cat. I’m very careful about ‘hoochie’ wear for our girls clothing – nothing comes into the store that I wouldn’t put on my own daughter. With increased business over time, I feel that we can carry an even broader selection of clothes and deeper size selection. My hope is that the shopping center will increase traffic in 2013 with the opening up of the Chipotle restaurant and it will give us a nice boost in business for 2013.
Please shop local for the holiday season!