Loan Match Grant, Spring 2013
Smak Parlour is a woman-owned and operated boutique and traveling boutique. The target customer is in her 20’s to 30’s, but they stock an array that will catch the eye of any hip Philadelphia fashionista. Rather than a seasonal inventory the duo who are Drexel graduates introduce new styles daily.
In 2013, Smak Parlour was looking to outfit a truck so that they could take their business mobile. This is very likely the first retail clothing truck of its kind. The owners have a lively Facebook presence, and were talking with college campuses to get a sense for the need. The Philadelphia Mobile Food Association (PMFA) pledged their support and provided technical assistance. Smak Parlour came to TMF asking to match a loan with a grant to help purchase and outfit the truck. In 2014 they applied again for help with inventory and SEO for a growing ecommerce platform.
This truck is unique in its business model, and unique to the area. It provides an attraction to the already popular food truck culture at beaches, street festivals, college campuses, private events and other food truck destinations.
In 2014, Smak Parlour reported back to us on their successful experience with their fashion truck. They not only increased their revenue, but became known on an international level. They were featured by Natalie Nixon an MBA professor at a TEDx talk, the “disruptive business model of a local retail company named Smak Parlour”. They have captured press from BBC international. They were invited to the Javits Fashion Fair for free, which usually costs upwards of $7,000.
The owners spent the winter hosting pop ups in Rittenhouse Square and Manayunk. Rittenhouse Square was brilliant but now they can’t find affordable space in this neighborhood. Smak Parlour continued to explore more neighborhoods, but in the interim, they had a need to build their online sales. This will increase cash flow, which will give them the money to find a second store. Their plan is organized and focused; they have run some tests after optimization and the results indicate a genuine opportunity. Online shoppers are staying on the site an average of 5 minutes which is huge in the virtual shopping world. The margins for online fulfillment are excellent. In addition, they have built a huge mailing list resource from their truck site visits, a huge customer base which can be tapped into with this plan moving forward.
Upgrades were needed for the web site and inventory needed to be purchased to support increased sales. They also planned to have parallel sites at Etsy, Amazon and EBay. Smak Parlour applied for a Loan Match Grant, of which our portion would contribute to SEO upgrades to their site, and the purchase of inventory for the anticipated increase of sales. With their hyper-local but disruptive business model they have an opportunity to grow with and for the neighborhoods in which they operate. They drive foot traffic where their truck goes and offer a different truck purchasing experience that pairs nicely with the food truck industry and street events.