GLENVIEW – Savvy North Shore fashionistas who love shopping local — but hesitate to spend hundreds of dollars on a trendy top that may look dated next season — will rejoice when they walk through the doors of Apricot Lane, a national clothing franchise recently opened at The Glen Town Center.
Launched in October by Deerfield couple Rachel and Keith Schechter, Apricot Lane’s Glenview location sells fashion-forward clothing, shoes and accessories at prices typically found in big-box discount chains like TJ Maxx and Nordstrom Rack, while simultaneously providing the upscale atmosphere and personal service of a small, specialty store.
“I love shopping, but I don’t like digging through racks to find affordable clothes,” said Rachel. “We offer our customers a boutique experience without boutique pricing.”
At Apricot Lane, customers can snag the fashion statement of the moment, like a cold shoulder top or pair of ripped jeans, for $30-$60, and be free from the guilt of investing in a piece they may only wear for 6 months. The boutique stocks only 6 pieces of each item they sell, ensuring that Apricot Lane’s stock – just like the latest trends – cycles through quickly, with new products arriving on a daily basis.
“We’ve been open for about 2 months, but we’ve seen the same shopper come in as many as 10 times in that short period,” said Keith. “They know to expect new styles at each visit.”
Founded by its California-based parent company, Country Visions, Apricot Lane franchise stores began opening around the United States in 2007. The company currently supports 75 franchise stores around the country, with plans to open as many as 15-25 new locations – typically in malls and outdoor shopping centers – each year.
As parents of two small children with a desire for more work flexibility and independence, The Schechters bought an Apricot Lane franchise in 2017 and set to work opening their shop in Glenview, the chain’s first boutique in the Chicago area. Using a winning sales format outlined by the parent franchisor, The Schechters added special touches to their Apricot Lane boutique. Rachel designed the store’s spacious dressing rooms, finishing them with chandeliers, cushioned seats, and chalkboard nameplates.
“Growing up as a child, I always had a dream of being a store owner,” said Rachel. “But I had no retail experience which is why I went the franchise route.”
Keith, who started his career as a trader, largely oversees the store’s finances. Now adept at assisting Apricot Lane customers and recommending styles, Keith started out with zero knowledge of women’s fashion.
“I remember being at the company’s corporate headquarters for training,” said Keith. “I sat there, listening to people talk about cardigans until I finally raised my hand and said, ‘Excuse me, what’s a cardigan?’”
These days, the daily task of operating Apricot Lane is a Schechter Family affair. Six-year old son, Blake, joins his parents at the store on weekends, and daughter Stephanie, 9, considers herself a full-fledged member of the Apricot Lane staff.
“Stephanie greets customers at the door and writes their names on our dressing room doors,” said Rachel. “She often styles outfits with jewelry and accessories. She’s pretty much ready to drop out of elementary school and work here.”
Apricot Lane’s customer base, say the Schechters, ranges in age from 13-90. In addition to stocking popular brands like Flying Monkey, Just Black, Lush and Elan, Apricot Lane is also known for selling products that support international charities. Nationally, the franchise supports 3Strands, a line of bracelets made by Cambodian girls rescued from human trafficking. All profits are used to empower, teach and employ women with limited opportunities.
On a busy pre-Christmas morning, the Schechters and their friendly staff could be found helping customers select gifts, choose festive dresses and tops for parties, and making Apricot Lane feel like a cozy, family-run boutique.
Recently, the Schechters helped style a customer at the request of her fiancé, who called ahead to make sure she was outfitted for his surprise proposal.
“She left here beaming,” said Rachel. “It was so much fun.”
Apricot Lane is located at 1951 Tower Drive, The Glen. For more information call 847-730-3423 or visit apricotlaneboutique.com/theglen