Small Utah businesses come together at the Battlecreek BoutiqueJan 06, 2023 10:41AM ● By Isa Alcaraz
The Battlecreek Boutique was brought to West Jordan seven years ago.
Another January has arrived, and the new year often brings a fresh start to goals, plans and, whether you like it or not, shopping. Even with the intensity of holiday shopping in the past for now, there is always another event to buy a gift for, peaking right around the corner. From birthdays to anniversaries, the different celebrations often create a pressure to give the perfect gift, and the task isn’t always easy.
But one possible solution for all the frustration: shop local.
Schmidt’s Greenhouse, a local business founded in 1911, hosted the Battlecreek Boutique to kick off the holiday season last month.
The three-day gift and craft show featured more than 80 locally owned small businesses with a wide variety of merchandise for sale. From sweet treats and trinkets, to art, books and more, the Battlecreek Boutique highlighted just how special small businesses are. Regardless of what they were selling, every vendor offered unique, fun and useful products.
The Battlecreek Boutique started in 1980 and was originally named after Battlecreek Canyon in Pleasant Grove. Throughout its history, the boutique’s messaging is greater than just buying things, it’s all about community.
“Local business impacts the community in every way possible,” said Julie Taggart, owner of the Battlecreek Boutique. “We are helping a family pay for piano lessons or participation in the rec baseball team.” Taggart, who has owned the boutique for seven years now, highlighted the types of people who own these small businesses, and how close to home they truly are.
“My mom and grandma used to crochet dish towels and sell them at the Mormon Handicraft for years. We are moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas,” Taggart said. “We have vendors who sit at their sewing machine for hours making and preparing items to sell, grandpas who make wooden toys in the garages, dreaming of the kids who will play with their new trains.”
Putting together the Battlecreek Boutique each year requires a lot of preparation and collaboration. Taggart usually starts working on the Christmas show in June of each year, and spends months emailing vendors, state tax specialists and city and state business licensing offices. Then come the discussions deciding on a good variety of vendors who best represent the community.
“Our main goal is to have as many handcrafted/homemade products as possible,” she said. “We even offer small booths to youth entrepreneurs 14 years old and younger to participate.”
Trade shows like the Battlecreek Boutique also offer local businesses the opportunity to meet their customers and fellow shop owners face to face and allow for great relationships to build.
Kristen Verzello, who was at the December show with Usborne Books and More, enjoys the solidarity that comes from participating in the Battlecreek Boutique. “Doing boutiques and shows is hard work, so there is a true camaraderie between vendors that just can’t be described. They’re the only ones who truly appreciate all of the work you do,” she said.
Usborne Books & More is a division of Educational Development Corporation, a children’s book publishing company, and distributes books through independent consultants. Verzello, who has been with Usborne Books for over a year now, reflected on how the stress that small businesses endure are things big box stores can’t relate to, simply because they don’t have to.
“There are many challenges having a small business, but the biggest for me right now is shipping,” Verzello said. “It’s impossible to compete with Amazon’s free shipping, and people have come to expect that from companies. It just isn’t feasible for small companies to offer that.”
And they shouldn’t, as the thing that sets small businesses apart is the care they put into their products. Every penny funds their passion to give the world something unique and make the lives of their customers a little bit better.
In a modern world where distance is the standard, the Battlecreek Boutique brings people together. “I love the face-to-face interaction I get at shows like Battlecreek Boutique. Most of my business is done online, so I don’t get the same type of feedback that I get in person. I love to see people’s faces when I show them a book!” Verzello said.
Another plus to shopping locally is the pride the owners take in every aspect of their business. For example, ONDA, a family-oriented towel company that was featured at the Battlecreek Boutique, takes their role as a business very seriously.
“It means accountability,” Gustavo Dalanhese, a representative for ONDA said. “We create our policies and make our decisions and if we make a mistake there isn’t a faceless corporation to hide behind. We own it and address it.” This perspective is crucial in creating a mutually beneficial brand/customer relationship.
The Battlecreek Boutique not only creates positive vibes amongst small businesses and their customers, it’s also good for the businesses in improving their craft.
“Boutique trade shows create a platform for businesses to test and refine products, messaging, talking points, marketing and pricing,” Dalanhese said. “At these boutiques you get direct and immediate feedback and it’s critical to get better and grow.”