José Luis Villegas / Bee file, 2005

The Sacramento Antique Faire runs from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at 21st and X. A move to Front Street has been delayed.

Cathie Anderson: El Dorado Hills boutique branches out to Folsom to head off rivals

Published: Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Monday, Jan. 14, 2013 - 8:57 am

Almost as soon as Robin Bernardoni heard about Folsom's Palladio at Broadstone shopping center, she began to worry that it would spell trouble for her thriving Runway Boutique in El Dorado Hills.

Runway is perched on a hillock just above the cascading man-made waterfall at the Montaño de El Dorado shopping center. There, just one freeway exit east of where Palladio was planned, Bernardoni had established a retail business serving girls and women of varying ages, sizes and income levels.

She opened her store in 2009, amid one of the worst retail climates in decades, but it proved to be perfect timing for her.

"I was hearing from my reps at market that 90 percent of their boutiques had gone out of business in California," Bernardoni said. "I was coming in as everybody else was going out, but the positive thing about going into business then was that fashion lines were open."

Bernardoni was able to sign deals with hot brands such as Free People, Hudson Jeans, Rock Revival, Miss Me, Michael Stars, Big Star, Sherri Hill, Jovani and others, ensuring Runway would be the only retailer carrying them within a few miles.

The trouble was, the palatial new shopping center in Folsom would be just outside the radius. What if a boutique opened there, secured the same brands and siphoned off business?

That's why Bernardoni became the first clothing retailer to open at Palladio last February. Her Button Up boutique protects Runway's western flank.

"I did two separate names because two Runways within 3.5 miles wouldn't work," Bernardoni explained. "We're still sharing the same customer base. That's why (retail consultants) recommend you don't open this close together."

Both stores have a similar look and vibe, but shoppers will find some distinct differences in merchandise.

"We try to bring a lot of little blouse lines in here and different special occasion lines so that customers feel like they need to go to both stores to see the full range of merchandise," Bernardoni said. "They don't feel like, 'Oh, I've been to Runway, so I know what will be at Button Up.' "

Wait, there's more …

Look for the Sacramento Antique Faire in the same location it's occupied for the last eight years. A planned move to Front Street has been delayed. The fair's founder, Marylon Rose, tells me that the property manager didn't confer with Caltrans in time to get equipment moved from the Front Street site. She hopes to have it worked out before freeway construction forces her to shut down the fair. Today's Home & Garden section has an item about the move, but it was printed before news of the delay arrived. The fair, which runs from 6:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, will be at 21st and X streets under the W-X freeway. …

ShiverSisters Erin Whiteley and Geneva Soulier are looking at getting another Airstream after a profitable summer selling shaved ice treats in El Dorado Hills. "We may get a second trailer and grow from there," Whiteley said. "We turned down so many events while we were parked."

Whitely and Soulier operated their business from Memorial Day through Labor Day last year, twice as long as they were open in 2011. So, you'd expect their revenue to double, right? Wrong! Sales grew almost five times as much. "We didn't know if we'd come out ahead, and we did," Whiteley said. "Our bookkeeper was amazed. She said, 'If you don't do it again, I'll buy it from you.' " ShiverSisters will be back, but they are looking for a more populated spot to park their Airstream. If they get a second trailer, it will roll to events around the region.

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