“It’s like suddenly being a part of a wonderful neighborhood” -Missy Brown
Missy Brown, proprietor of Simply B boutique NOW ON BROADWAY in Paducah, obviously has good taste. Missy says her inventory is solely based on stocking things she likes. “It’s probably not a good business model, but I buy things that I like or that I think my friends would like. I don’t really buy what I think will sell or based on any marketing trends. I go to market and bring home what I love.” Business is good so the plan must be working.
“Good taste” has perhaps always been a part of Missy’s professional palette. She earned a degree as a nutritionist and worked with the Dairy Council in St. Louis and then later in pharmaceutical sales. But the science of diets and drugs wasn’t really fulfilling Missy’s prescription for contentment. Sales of a different variety soon became her daily dose of hometown happiness.
“My boss told me I was crazy when I resigned,” Missy remembers. “But I was ready. I had literally been thinking about opening a shop for about four years until I finally became so burned out with being on the road, that I leased a building on Broadway and opened up Simply B. We soon outgrew our first location and in 2010 we relocated to the shop at 21st and Broadway.” Now Missy has made another move to a larger location in the downtown historic district and she couldn’t be happier.
“What I have experienced in the last month has been so positive and so terrific,” Missy says of her new establishment as a downtown merchant. “Everyone has been SO nice. All the neighbors came in that first week to say hello and bring us flowers. It was very welcoming. It was like suddenly being part of a wonderful neighborhood.”
Being a part of a unique neighborhood IS a trend that Missy can buy into. In contrast to the blighted downtowns of a couple of decades ago, urban planners are finding that customers have grown weary of look-alike malls and cookie-cutter stores. “I really think shoppers are coming back home in a way,” says Missy. “Again I’m drawing on my own personal tastes, but I really love to shop in small boutiques when I’m in another city. They’re more interesting and you’re not buying what everyone else is. And, like here in Paducah, you can also see the cultural impact these shops are having on the success of our communities and historic places.”
Simply B was in need of more space and Missy was definitely looking for a more open floor plan. She also wanted something with a distinctive architectural character. But there was more to it than the logistics of a different retail space. “After looking at the former Broadway General Store building on Broadway, I realized that being in this location did more than just provide us with a storefront. We were actually participating in the future success of Paducah’s downtown. And that feels really great. “
There is a camaraderie that is a palpable part of being downtown, Missy has observed. Strategy meetings and cooperative marketing plans provide individual stores or businesses the opportunity to work together as a team rather than feel as if they are going it all alone. It’s a collaborative effort that merchants believe provides corporate conquests.
“Now I feel as if our store and our staff are a part of a growing vibrancy in our community,” Missy adds. “We want to be a part of that energy. We’re really excited about the possibilities for us and for our downtown district.”