In 2007, the two principals of Buffums Stores, Inc. began our journey to creating a great store through the rough and tumble sewing and apparel wholesale industry in Los Angeles California. It was at this place in time that the principals of The b. Store began laying the platform for the future, sewing great clothing and developing relationships with some of the premier fast fashion labels in the industry. At the height of the mid-2000s, we were working with several emerging designers to create their first clothing lines as well as producing garments for major apparel companies, some of which are still sold in major department stores today.
Like many, 2008 was a challenging year. In response to the economic downturn in late 2008, we readjusted our strategy, closing our manufacturing operations and moved to a modest storefront which used to be an art gallery in downtown Long Beach. Our attention was now focused on contract production management and buying services, providing consulting and management expertise to various companies and clothing lines wishing to sell their goods to retail buyers. Due to our storefront location, we began to open our store to participate in the monthly 2nd Saturday Art Walks that would take place, one could say we became retailers by accident. It started simple enough, selling excess sample pieces and making those “sample sales” an event, red carpet included.
By 2009, The b. Store in Long Beach was becoming the buzz of the town. We found our sample sales and unique offerings were gaining in popularity, so much so, that customers were knocking on our office doors every day asking for new styles. In response, we moved racks in and opened our doors to the public every day, adding curated collections from our friends down in the LA fashion district in addition to the samples we were offering.
In 2012, due to the overwhelming response to our merchandise selections, we exited the consulting and management business and became a full-fledged store. Our prototype store was opened in the 2ndstreet shopping and dining district in Belmont Shore, CA. Our fresh styles and matchless customer services earned us a warm reception.
In 2014, we offered the opportunity to acquire the Buffums Stores name. Buffums was an iconic 100-year-old department store company that had previously closed its doors many years earlier. The Buffum's building is still a historical landmark in Downtown Long Beach and as a Long Beach, CA-based company we were honored to carry on this tradition. With this our ambitious intentions were made clear to be the best apparel retailer in the business, paying homage to a quality name that was known for its selection and service.
Almost instantly our formula was a hit earning the attention of clients and mall management alike. With our fresh styles and unbeatable customer service provided by trained stylists inside our stores, we were able to produce, over $1000.00 per sq. ft. in sales in our first full year in operation. The choice was clear the Southwest Florida Market was a match for us. Based upon our success in this marketplace the decision was made in March 2016 to divest ourselves from the California market and make Florida our new home.
With further proof of our concept, it was time to expand. Construction
began in August 2017 on a second location, a former Teavana Tea, at Coconut Point Town Center in Estero, FL. 22 miles away from our Naples Venetian Village location. In the midst of the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, our new location was opened on September 22nd, 2017. This new 1240 sq. ft. store in Estero, Florida was designed to be a template for our future stores and was envisioned to reflect our focus on bright and bold. Electric blues and rosarian pink became our signature colors throughout our stores with the unique impact of hanging thread spools in our windows (an homage to our beginning) completes our distinctive atmosphere. The Coconut Point b. store includes a unique feature, a separate fitting room lounge area designed to enhance the one-on-one personal styling experience.
All eyes were on our future growth, to prepare for further expansion, a lease was signed in September 2017, a small 500 sq. ft, 3 room office suite was leased adjacent to our store at The Coconut Point Town Center. Corporate offices were opened in October of 2017. With that our first full-time Chief Operating Officer was hired.
In June 2018, The b. Store hit two impressive milestones, one being the first time as a company that we achieved gross sales of over one million dollars as well as the beginning of our national expansion with the opening of The b. Studio at Chicago’s Woodfield Mall. This 1,300 sq. ft. showroom differs slightly from our b. Store concept as it is more focused on special occasion wear. In addition, we officially launched thebstore.com
August of 2018 saw two more significant events happen within the company. Our headquarters were expanded into the two adjacent office suites giving us over 1,800 sq. feet of space to house our growing e-commerce business and to support store operations on a national platform. Additionally, construction began on our Naples Flagship Location to double its size.
In November 2018 construction was completed and our Naples Flagship location was expanded to over 2000 sq. ft. more than doubling its size complete with a fresh new look and additional merchandise assortments.