Dubuque clothing stores seeing a considerable uptick in shoppers

Dubuque clothing stores seeing a considerable uptick in shoppers

DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) – Opening up a clothing boutique in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic is something Abbey DeStefano second-guessed for a long time.

”I totally questioned it,” DeStefano said. “I had signed the lease, I had paid my rent for the first two months; then, when the mask mandate came, it was just even more scary.”

Now, just after celebrating Vivie Boutique’s first anniversary, both she and her store manager said they are finally seeing it all pay off.

”People are going back to the office, so they pop in on their lunch break, more restaurants are opening so they will come before or after dinner, but it has been great,” DeStefano said.

“They are anxious to get out and shop in person, take off the masks, and really experience shopping like it is meant to be,” Dana Huettman, the store manager, added.

The boutique specializes in women’s clothing, so they said some of the most popular items for the past few weeks have included dresses for graduations, baby showers, and weddings. They said shoppers tell them they feel more comfortable going out to events as restrictions have loosened and more people are vaccinated.

That fear from a lack of customers, though, was widespread. That was the case too at Graham’s Style Store, according to its president, Ben Graham.

”It was a while ago that I thought, ‘I am never going to sell a white shirt again,’” Graham said.

Graham said that has now changed. He explained he has now been ordering from 12 to 15 white shirts in a specific period of time.

“And that is sort of an indicator, a baseline indicator, that people are starting to dress up and put more relevance on clothing,” Graham said.

The store is located in downtown Dubuque, a place he said is known for being vibrant and full of energy. That is something he recognized is making a comeback after the pandemic forced many people to work from home.

“It just feels like there is more and more energy and vitality,” Graham said. “Especially over the lunch hour, the 5 o’clock or 8 o’clock hours, there is people walking by all the time and there is just more energy everywhere.”

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