A lingerie store in Adelaide Arcade proves a good business idea and the right location are all you need.
This city retailer’s cup is overflowing
This June, Alexandra Vaissière will be flying out to the world’s leading lingerie fair in Paris to purchase more stock for her thriving business.
Alexandra will also scout for a manufacturer for her own forthcoming luxury brand.
Discover limited leasing opportunities in Adelaide Arcade and Gays Arcade.
Since opening her eponymous lingerie shop in 2015, the French native has gone from strength to strength – especially in the last 12 months.
“Last year… I had only one employee, and that was my first ever,” Alexandra says.
“Two years ago, I was by myself. And now I have four people.”
Summer is normally peak season for lingerie. However, Alexandra happily shares she “couldn’t say anymore when I’m busy and when I’m not, because I’m busy all the time”.
While the pandemic and growth in online shopping has seen some major retailers close stores and shrink floorspace in recent times, many specialty businesses are thriving.
For Alexandra, having the right product mix in the right location are the keys to her success.
She says that, even with her 10 years of industry experience prior to opening the shop, she could not have hoped to have been as successful had she stayed in France. The competition there is fierce.
Moving to Adelaide was a strategic move, too. There are similar shops to Alexandra Lingerie in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, but here she has the market to herself.
Customers regularly come from Darwin and Mildura to be professionally fitted, and the shop has around 100 sizes in stock, up to the very voluptuous.
Travelling for hours is a minor trade-off when a customer knows they’ll leave comfortable and confident after a fitting.
“[The] shape of the breast is not something an algorithm or like a questionnaire online can tell you,” she says, comparing it to buying nail polish online versus a good manicure. “You really need something physical.”
Consequently, the shop’s location in Adelaide’s premier shopping precinct of Rundle Mall was never up for negotiation.
“It’s attractive like a big shopping centre for locals, and second we’ve got the tourists,” she says.
Eschewing a spot fronting the Mall, Alexandra honed in on Adelaide Arcade for its high occupancy rates and foot traffic.
“If you want to open a small business you don’t have much money, arcades are definitely better,” she says.
“It’s a virtuous cycle… Because it’s busy, it’s pretty, it’s attractive. So, it can attract more people. And so, it’s attractive again.”
She says although she probably pays “a little bit more” than in the neighbouring arcades, there is “much more foot traffic” and the neighbouring shop owners are supportive and “lovely”.
The historic architecture of Adelaide Arcade and its tributary, Gays Arcade, appeals. As does the mix of upmarket specialty stores such as J. Farren Price, South Australia’s only authorised retailer of the iconic Rolex brand.
To Alexandra and many visitors, this pocket of the city feels European and charming. The perfect backdrop for a lingerie store.
Since opening up seven years ago, she has doubled her floorspace, taking up the lease on the adjacent shop when it finally became available.
She mentions that while some tenants closed when the pandemic hit, others, like Raw Pearls, also grew into a double store.
She has nothing but praise for Adelaide Arcade’s managers, Evans + Ayers, saying when COVID-19 hit, they “studied case by case who was struggling compared to the others” and “tried to be fair, but at the same time, give a bit more help” to tenants who needed it.
The businesses surrounding Alexandra are equally niche and intent on providing a level of personalised service that speaks to an earlier time.
Here, one can find a store selling astronomical cameras, a dance school, a bespoke tailor, no less than nine jewellers and an architecture firm. It is the high street condensed, better and more refined.
Alexandra is more than happy with her address and hopes to expand the shop again in the next two or three years.
With trade booming, perhaps there is an analogy to be made between having the right location for her a specialty business like hers and a professional bra fitting.
“Like have something fitting you properly… You stand up, you’ll feel more confident and then you can go through your life.”