At Capretto in South Miami, it’s all about providing something special.
“Our curation is unique in that we customize shoes for our customers — [creating] exclusive colors, styles and heel heights — to ensure that we have a unique point of view and different merchandise than department stores,” said Jason Salstein, head buyer at the women’s footwear boutique. “[As a result], we have a very loyal following.”
Capretto has been catering to customers since 1983, when it launched as a shop-in-shop in the suburban Miami store A Nose for Clothes. It opened a standalone location on Sunset Drive in 1990 and was purchased by Patricia Fluxman in 2008.
“When Patty bought the store, it was right before the financial crisis,” said Salstein. “Her main initiative was to cut brands that weren’t working for us, focus on luxury and bring in some LVMH brands, such as Givenchy, Fendi and Céline.”
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In 2012, Fluxman undertook a $250,000 renovation of the store to create its luxurious décor, featuring dark wood and a neutral color scheme that puts the focus on the designer shoes and accessories.
Located next to residential neighborhoods Coral Gables and South Miami, Capretto has access to an affluent clientele. Still, the market presents challenges. “The bulk of our customers live full time in South America, so when the economies in countries such as Brazil and Venezuela are not doing well, it does affect us,” said Salstein.
“We combated this obstacle by being smarter on our buys and purchasing more ‘buy now, wear now’ items,” he said. “We are also focusing on shoes that can be worn for multiple occasions so our customer feels she is getting more for her purchase.”
Capretto’s best-selling labels include Gianvito Rossi, Jimmy Choo, Valentino, Sergio Rossi, Balmain, Gucci and Saint Laurent. Salstein said the store’s selling strategy is equally elevated. “Our approach is very informal compared with other boutiques,” he said. “We do not push product on customers, and we ensure that everyone who walks in our doors is treated like a VIP shopper.”
Trunk shows are also important to the business. Capretto has recently worked with Paul Andrew, Jerome C. Rousseau and Chelsea Paris on in-store events. “The entire Capretto team is such a pleasure to work with,” said Andrew. “But their real secret weapon is Jason, their talented head buyer. He believes in and understands fashion and provides Capretto’s clients with one of the most curated, unique and fashion-forward assortments I have ever witnessed in a small specialty store.”
Now, the shop is focused on the digital space. Capretto is ramping up its e-commerce business, including a partnership with Farfetch that provides access to Saudi Arabia, Russia and the U.K. “We hope to grow our online business to 25 percent of our total business in the next year,” said Salstein.
He added that social media is another key focus for the retailer, especially Instagram. “Through Instagram, we have not only acquired new customers but are selling more to existing customers,” said Salstein. “As we post product, calls come in, and sales are done over the phone.”
Capretto will also debut a traveling pop-up this year in resort locations such as Aspen, Colo., and the Hamptons in New York.
Salstein is confident that, even in a questionable economy, the independent boutique will see an increase in business this year. “I predict there will be a resurgence of shopping at small, curated boutiques such as ours,” he said. “People want to be greeted by name and treated like a celebrity. The fact that it’s an election year and there’s uncertainty in the global economy will be a challenge, but we’ve been around for 30 years and seem to have the right formula.”