When Kate Thompson, 27, set up Cupkates by Kate, she could have merely sold the bakery item. Instead, she thought outside the box and offered tea parties for children featuring her product.
She opened on a small scale, with a store fewer than 400 square feet, last summer inside the Market LV portion of Tivoli Village, 440 S. Rampart Blvd.
Now, Thompson and her brother, Will, 24, have established another business just down the hall, a shoe boutique called Katie August.
It also benefits from thinking outside the box. There are no shoe racks there. Instead, furniture holds the merchandise in the 537-square-foot spot. Personalized service, the owners said, is a top priority.
“I don’t care how much money you have to spend, you’re going to be treated the same by Katie or me,” Will said. “… When you come in here, I’m trying to help you find something that you like and isn’t going to break the bank.”
Kate said having another business was always in the cards. Shoes were chosen because “there was no shoe store in Tivoli Village, let alone up here in the Market LV. We wanted to do something for women, and what woman has ever said, ‘I own too many shoes?’ ” she said.
Prices start at $16.95. The store also carries some purses and hats.
Shopper Lisa Feather recently browsed for the first time in Katie August, but it was not her first introduction to it.
“We were here for dinner the other night, and my son was in town, and he bought a pair of sandals, these sparkling kind of things, for his girlfriend,” Feather said. “When he got back, he said, ‘Oh, she absolutely loved them.’ She’s a shoe horse, I guess you’d say. So, I thought I’d come check it out.”
Even other shop owners at the Market LV were eyeing the merchandise and came by to see what was offered.
“She has the cutest shoes, and they’re exclusive to Las Vegas,” said Arlene Bordinhao, whose candy shop, B Sweet Candy Boutique, is across the hall.
Katie August almost stumbled before it got out of the starting gate. Startup costs were more than anticipated. The siblings had to get creative with the rest of the budget and focused on the interior.
They found used furniture at Opportunity Village, and their uncle and cousins sanded and painted it. Kate and her father strapped on knee guards and painted the boutique’s cement floor with a Chevron pattern. A pair of high heels were recruited for the curtain tie backs. And those long curtains? They’re actually painter’s cloths.
“There were times when we were very strapped,” Will said. “The cupcake shop was doing well, so we were taking (the profits) from that and putting it into this. It was like, you couldn’t see the success of that (the cupcake business) because we were taking all the net and putting it into this and still coming up short.”
Leslie Parraguirre is a longtime family friend and mentor who owns a design company, Colours Inc.
“We’re only halfway there; it’s not finished,” Parraguirre said of the decor. “… One of the hardest things to do, for a shoe store, is square footage and (how much is allotted) for back stock. So you have to be very savvy how you’re going to display beautiful shoes and yet keep your back stock right on the floor.”
Kate still runs Cupkates but also divides her time with the new venture. The two businesses leave little time for herself.
“I figure you can sleep when you’re dead,” she joked. “I like to work. I thrive on work. But this is so fun, it’s not like it’s work.”
She said no sibling disputes have arisen as she and Will have always gotten along well. Besides, they each have their own forte and respect each other’s business strengths.
The Market LV will soon fill with its final tenant. Ai Bijoux, a swimsuit shop, opened in early July. Sol Swimwear Couture opened next door. A shampoo and blow dry bar, the Blowout Dollhouse, takes up a corner spot.
The Market LV opened in July 2012 and sold out in February. There is only one shop not yet opened, Sexy One, a clothing store.
Russell Young and his wife, Andrea, launched the Market LV concept in Southern California before replicating it in Las Vegas.
He said the new shoe store was a “good fit” and that the economy was doing much better.
“Even though some restaurants closed in Tivoli, the traffic volume was up 30 percent for the Market LV,” Russell Young said. “I think people love it. The design is great.”
At both the original Southern California concept and in Las Vegas, the shops were 80 percent leased when they opened and 100 percent full within six months.
Just because an entrepreneur can afford the rent doesn’t mean he’ll get a slot at the Market LV.
“We turn down probably nine out of 10,” Young said of businesses that approach him. “If we like the concept, if it’s high-end and boutique, then, yeah, they’re in. And we try to make sure things don’t overlap. When you have limited space, you can be rather choosy, and it’s worked out rather well. You’re always tempted by somebody with a big fat check, but we just don’t do that. … It’s a shopping experience.”
The Market LV is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit themarketlv.com.
Contact Summerlin/Summerlin South View reporter Jan Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2949.