Opening a women’s boutique at the height of a recession isn’t for the faint of heart—but Annie Boyle of Evanston, co-owner of Davis Miller in Winnetka, has come up with creative ways to weather the storm.
Seven months after opening the store in August 2008, the feisty, well-dressed redhead decided to start doing designer consignment to “bring the joy back” for women dealing with the repercussions of the economic downturn. The idea was a win-win: It gave women the chance to recycle their clothing, get rid of things and generate income, and it kept Davis Miller from having to buy merchandise and worry about whether or not it would sell.
All sales at Davis Miller are attached to a charity—for instance, during a 30-percent-off sale, customers can get an extra 10 percent off if they bring in a bag of groceries for a food pantry.
“It’s what I believe in,” Boyle, 54, says. Her business sponsors after-school and summer camp programs at a church in Rogers Park, and she and her husband have volunteered at a homeless shelter in Evanston once a week for 10 years. They also used to donate food to a local warming center, but now a friend of hers has taken over providing all the food.
“That’s what you want to happen,” she says. “So you can move on to the next thing.”