A couple weeks ago, we talked about The Shoe Hive’s new look. Today, I talk with Angela as she takes us on a tour of the freshly renovated Bellacara. I’ll be honest, he first time I went into the completed space, I actually thought for a second that the store was wider. Clearly such an expansion isn’t possible in an Old Town townhouse, but it really did feel that much larger and airier. Turns out, that was by design. Angela knew exactly how she wanted the updated Bellacara to look and feel. And, just like with makeup, it’s amazing what a makeover can do.
Bellacara has been in its current location for eight years. When I moved to this location, my main concern was to open as quickly as possible. There really wasn’t a lot of time or thought put into an overall aesthetic. The only thing I really put much time into was the gold leaf wall. That was a labor of love and took an excruciating amount of time (and a ton of gold flakes in my hair) to accomplish. As a result, it’s pretty much the only thing that didn’t change. Over the years I’ve changed light fixtures and display tables, but never really did full scale redecorating. Once my kids started high school, I realized that between school and their activities they weren’t home as much. This reality freed me up to work in store more. Once I was in the store on a daily basis, all the things I hadn’t really paid much attention to really started to bother me. One day I just couldn’t take it anymore and the reno began.
I had lived with charcoal gray walls and IKEA shelving for far too long. I wanted something custom. I wanted it to feel bigger and brighter. I wanted it to feel sophisticated and elegant without feeling too precious or unapproachable. I didn’t want people to look in the door and think, “it looks expensive…I don’t want to go in there.” We want you to come in! We want you to play and we want you to ask questions. I love when someone is leaving and they say, “This was fun. I’m excited about my new things.” It should be fun. Paying your taxes isn’t fun. Fixing your dishwasher isn’t fun. Buying skincare and makeup should be fun.
The depth of the cabinetry! The previous cabinetry was twenty-four inches deep. It was ridiculous. Most stores have ten- to fourteen-inch deep shelves when displaying skincare and haircare. As a result, we always looked empty. Bottles could be six deep and there would be twelve extra inches behind them empty. It also took up far too much floor space and as a result, you often felt as if you had to side shuffle past people in tight spots. Strollers would get parked and moms would scoot to another location without them to grab something. Moms and their babies no longer have to separate to shop in my store…I’m happy about that, though I miss the excuse to play with the babies.
I really love the open shelving. The floating glass shelves make it so much easier to see everything. But the biggest impact has probably been the lighting. When I moved into the space, the lighting was all fluorescent office tube lighting. It was often pretty dark in the space and it was really hard to color match or help with makeup selections if the sun wasn’t out. The new LED daylight recessed flood lights have brightened the space immensely. It’s so much brighter that people are commenting on the gold wall, which they think is new!
The biggest challenge was doing the renovation while trying to stay open through it all. The lighting all had to be changed in the mornings before the store opened. The cabinets had to come down, which meant that all the product had to come off the shelves. The back room had to be closed off for a couple weeks to allow that room to be completed and to house the new items for the front room. Wallpaper had to go up after the cabinets came down and before new shelving could go up. The timing of it all was difficult, but thanks to some amazing contractors, the store was only closed for two days. I also had to cut back on orders because I only had one room for product. My customers were very gracious throughout the whole process and I am very grateful. The space still has a few things to be done, but ninety percent is finished and I am very happy with the results.