The Internet has forever changed retail. But it will never replace the personalized experience of walking into an independently owned bricks-and-mortar store and being greeted by a person who delivers superior customer service. That’s not to say that online companies aren’t trying. Subscription services such as Birchbox, Graze, Dollar Shave Club and Stitchfix are popping up everywhere. They’re bating shoppers with promises of a customized experience that is based upon their preferences. After you fill out a ‘quick’, one-size-fits-all survey, they send you a variety of products to try based upon your responses.
Given that there are over 600 subscription services in the U.S. alone, clearly shoppers love getting a package full of surprises. Even I’ve been guilty of holding onto a Stitchfix subscription because I love the anticipation of getting five new pieces of clothing in the mail every month. The element of surprise outweighs the fact that I rarely keep any of the items. If I do, it’s because I don’t want to lose the $20 styling fee.
But, what if I told you there’s a better way to enjoy this type of experience?
Meet the Button Box!
Inspired by this Internet craze, Miranda Ebersold, the owner of The Yellow Button, a clothing boutique in downtown Harrisonburg, invented the Button Box to reach a broader audience. The Yellow Button takes the Stitch Fix concept and makes it better with truly personalized service and no fees.
When you sign up for a Button Box, you’ll receive 4-5 items in your box, including clothing and accessories (if you request them). Your items will be hand-selected by the savvy boutique owner herself who makes her selections based on real conversations with you over email or social media.
Besides working directly with an expert stylist and shop owner, the following features set this service apart from the impersonal, corporate competitors.
- There are no fees. Unlike other services, there are no styling fees or subscription fees. If you don’t like the items you receive, the only fee you incur is the cost to mail the box back. If you’re local to the Harrisonburg area, you can drop it off at the store for free.
- You set the budget and the frequency. The Yellow Button recommends a budget of $150 to ensure that you receive four items in your box, but you can ask for as many as you like depending on how much you want to spend. You can request a box as often as you like.
- It’s truly personalized. Miranda takes time to get to know you and what you’re looking for. She doesn’t rely solely on a Pinterest board or universal survey. She asks the right questions, gets a sense of your style, and after the experience, you’ll feel like she’s one of your friends.
- YOU’RE SUPPORTING A SMALL BUSINESS! Small businesses drive the local economy. When you sign up for a button box, you’re not supporting an Internet company. You’re supporting Miranda Ebersold and her sweet little family. They live and work downtown. It’s a regular occurrence to see them supporting other local businesses. Your dollars are being recycled and will stay here in Harrisonburg. When you shop online, $0 is returned to the local economy.
News about the Button Box is spreading fast. She has regular customers – from as far away as New York and Louisiana – who request a Button Box every few weeks. Even locals love this service for much more than its convenience. Harrisonburg community member, Tracy Seefried is a nurse with two kids. As she was getting ready for her last vacation, she reached out to Miranda to pick out some items for her trip to the beach when she didn’t think she would have time to stop by the store.
“Due to the nature of life, we are all busy,” says Seefried. “The beauty of this product is convenience in addition to developing a relationship with Miranda so she can gather a sense of your style and what type of clothing works for you.”
Miranda is very personable and accommodating. So, it’s no surprise that she dropped the box off on Tracy’s doorstep. Where else but the Friendly City would you get a personal delivery from a store owner?
While subscription boxes aren’t unique, Miranda’s adaptation makes the concept even better because she found a way to localize an Internet service while making it possible for people to support a small business and the Harrisonburg community. Now, you can get a box full of surprises and feel good about your purchases. Let Miranda style you for summer! To request a Button Box, email The Yellow Button.
Want to see what I kept from my button box? This beautiful Grocery Apparel maxi skirt (made from 100% organic and recycled materials) and RVCA crop top - the perfect outfit for the beach or a summer festival.
Written by Kim Kirk, Chief Marketing Officer at Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance.