A Carytown retailer didn’t go far to find its new storefront.
Ciao, a women’s retail and consignment shop, re-opened on March 8 at 3409 W. Cary St., just a few blocks west from its previous location.
Ciao owner Cathy Redding signed a one-year-lease for the 1,500-square-foot space. It had been the home of Blue Face Designs, a home design shop.
“It’s basically the same space, but cheaper and it’s a better block,” Redding said.
Redding had operated since 2009 out of 3031 W. Cary St. She said her new location increases her visibility and the rent is $1,000 less per month than what it was at her former space.
The move follows what Redding said was a tough year in a long retail career.
“Last year was the hardest year I’ve ever had,” Redding said. “In 2013, I was down 45 percent [in sales] from 2012.”
She launched Ciao in 2002 after getting her start in the industry when she was 16 working at La Vogue – what was a well-known Richmond-based retail chain founded in 1945 by the late Richmond developer and philanthropist H.J. Bernstein.
Redding eventually had stints at The Phoenix at 3101 W. Cary St. and Martin Interior Design at 3325 W Cary St., before launching her own shop.
Ciao’s target customers are women 35 and up looking for accessories, shoes and clothing, Redding said. She said about 60 or 70 percent of her spring inventory will include items priced under $100. Connecticut-based Antelope shoes are one of the more popular items Ciao sells at a cost of $175 each.
About a third of the business comes from items on consignment, which Redding started in 2010.
“A lot of customers will bring clothes for consignment and they’ll spend the money downstairs [on retail clothes],” Redding said.
Redding isn’t the only small business navigating the sometimes choppy waters of the Carytown retail scene. Champagne & Shoes is in the midst of a going-out-of-business sale, and Pink closed its doors after more than 30 years in business.
But space left vacant by those who don’t make it in Carytown doesn’t stay empty for long. Lou Lou plans to open in April in the former Pink space at 3158 W. Cary St. A husband-and-wife team leased up two Carytown retail spots in January right across the street from one another.
Redding said the up and down of customer traffic is one of the biggest challenges of running a retail shop.
“There’s no rhyme or reason for the business,” Redding said.