Sep 7, 2009

Impulse Boutique Moves Downtown

After a six-year stint in the Fremont neighborhood, Impulse women's boutique is moving to 913 Western Avenue. Impulse will now be located adjacent to Totokaelo, its sister store opened in November of 2008.

Opened in 2003, Impulse was owner Jill Wenger’s first retail store. Impulse stocks woman's designer clothing and accessories, who’s creators have evolved over the years from local up-and-comers to a 'who's who' in cult fashion brands. Today, Impulse and Totokaelo represent some of the world’s most sought after designers, including Maison Martin Margiela, Rick Owens, Yohji Yamamoto and Junya Watanabe. Wenger recalls, “If I had a solid grasp of how much I didn't know about retail and small business ownership, before opening a business, I might have paused for a few seconds before starting. My learning curve is pretty much a straight upwards-shooting line." The secret to Wenger's staying power includes a firm dedication to picking lines that are timeless, versatile, and well-crafted, and delivering a consistent, thoughtful, and personalized shopping experience unmatched by other retailers.

In 2008 Totokaelo [the downtown store] initially opened out of a need for square footage. Wenger and her staff simply outgrew the Impulse space. " launched in June of 2008. It was a huge deal. Almost immediately following the website launch, we were seeing sales almost twice what we'd ever seen before. It was crazy." Wenger continues, "We were shipping 20 to 30 packages a day out of a 100ft2 closet underneath a staircase. It got to a point where my team and I were literarily bumping into each other. I opened a larger space downtown simply because we needed more room." And now, less than a year later, the lease on Impulse is up and it's time to simplify. Totokaelo, the downtown store, has enough room for both stores to come together and room to grow.

Wenger looks forward to moving the two businesses under the same roof in order to provide the customized and relationship-centric experience, which has become the cornerstone of her businesses. Currently, the inventory represented on is split between the two retail stores. Wenger states, "This makes processing online orders and answering questions about clothing difficult, as there's a lot of directing clients to the store which houses that item, calling the other store to get measurements for a client, and driving half of the items from an order across town where the other half waits to be shipped. It's a lot of processes and memo's, and I'd rather be focused on styling and photo-shoots."

By simplifying, Wenger does not mean slowing down. In spite of the economic recession, the combined Impulse/Totokaelo/ triad saw sales grow by 40% in the first half of 2009. Wenger is currently working on a redesign of and a push towards evolving more diverse editorial content in both the shops and online.

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