Fashion retailer relocates into larger space
Cancer isn’t usually a catalyst for entrepreneurs.
Yet, that’s exactly what happened in 2011 to Prudence Kauffman, president of Dear Prudence, a retailer of women's jewelry, apparel and small gifts in Grand Rapids’ Forest Hills neighborhood.
“We moved here about three years ago. Right after moving here, I found out that I had uterine cancer,” Kauffman said. “My husband said, ‘As soon as you get better, we are going to do everything we ever said we were going to do.’ This shop was at the top of our list.”
Kauffman, who is now cancer free, opened her store in July 2012, in a 400-square-foot space in East Grand Rapids’ Gaslight Village.
Kauffman said Dear Prudence developed a loyal customer base, and she opened a second location in the MoDiv incubator in downtown Grand Rapids.
Today, Dear Prudence, which is named after The Beatles’ classic song, has moved out of both locations and, as of this spring, is in its 2,200-square-foot home in Grand Rapids’ Forest Hills Shopping Center, at 820 Forest Hills Ave. SE.
Dear Prudence added trendy and casual clothing products for women of all ages to its jewelry offerings, with brand names like Escapada, Gretchen Scott and Julie Brown Designs. Clothes had been part of Kauffman’s plan from the beginning.
“Grand Rapids is a really smart community, so it’s interesting to see retail in Grand Rapids,” Kauffman said. “You can’t just copy what someone else is doing and expect to be successful. Grand Rapids is too smart for that. We’re really thankful for our loyal customer base.”
Another part of Kauffman’s plan was getting into the right location for her business.
“We are loving our new location,” Kauffman said. “We have tons of parking and amazing foot traffic. Since we are just off Cascade, down from Forest Hills Foods, we've had great exposure and lots of new folks finding us.”
The store has a staff of five, including two new part-time positions for the larger location.