“We just took advantage of Facebook from the get-go,” Joseph said. “If we get a nice shipment in and post some pictures, and a lot of people are ‘liking’ it, it just brings in a flood of people.”
Joseph, 25, and Paliswat, 29, opened the Mainstream Boutique in Washington Square in September, selling clothing and accessories. Don’t let their young ages fool you — this shop is not aimed at high- schoolers, or even the students at Walsh University across the street. The sisters describe their stock as “trendy but modest.”
“We have it all, for 20-somethings to 70-somethings,” said Paliswat. “We buy in limited quantities. We have new stock coming in almost every day to keep it fresh.”
Paliswat, who has a degree in fashion merchandising, handles most of the buying. Joseph, whose degree is in culinary and hospitality management, handles marketing, fashion shows and special events.
Those events are quickly becoming a signature for the boutique.
“Once a month, we have a ladies night after hours,” Joseph said. “We might have a style show or have a makeup artist come in, have a cocktail hour, maybe some appetizers.”
Joseph keeps customers apprised of sales and events via a monthly e-mail newsletter. On Saturdays, customers might be greeted at the door with a bottle of water — or a mimosa.
“Why not? In New York, when men go to a tuxedo shop, they get a cigar and bourbon,” Joseph said.
Mainstream Boutique is a Minneapolis-based franchise, but not a restrictive one. The sisters visited five shops and said each one looked very different.
The only requirement for the decor was that we paint one wall purple. Each shop is a reflection of the owner.”
Elizabeth Joseph, owner, Mainstream Boutique
Their boutique is a chic blending of modern and vintage, with comfortable spacing between racks and displays. Paliswat is quick to point out pieces made by local artisans, including a soaring mirror by Cyrus Custom Framing, and funky dressers from Vintage Chic Boutique in Canton and Modern Vintage in Hartville.
All the artwork is by Scot Phillips in Massillon. We commissioned him to do the three Barbies for us.” Paliswat said, gesturing to a large depiction of the iconic doll painted on part of a barn door.”
Because they buy in very limited quantities — sometimes only two of a particular item — stock changes regularly. So what’s trending?
Combat boots under maxi skirts, ponchos, long tunics over printed leggings and MissMe jeans in bright colors.
“Anything in Aztec or tribal print. Chevron prints on anything,” Paliswat said. “Anything with a vegan leather trim. And two-tone boots are hugely popular, like black and camel or black and brown. Women like the versatility.”
Paliswat said customers often are surprised by their reasonable prices.
“Boutique doesn’t mean expensive — it means trendy and different,” she said.
Facebook allows them to reach customers that can’t stop by the store.
“We have customers everywhere — North Dakota, Texas, Virginia, Michigan,” Paliswat said. “Every morning we post pictures of new items on Facebook. Then in the comment box, they send us what size they want, and we ship it. We also have local people we ship to.
They know how quickly our merchandise goes, so they buy it online.”