By Rachel Parker Dickerson
When Chris and Ann Martin opened Ann's Trendy Kidz in downtown Conway, they wanted to be certain they were offering something unique.
The couple opened the store in July. They carry clothing for newborn to size 16 in girls and newborn to size 7 in boys. The store offers accessories, bedding, embroidery, and custom items.
"We have always talked about owning our own business, and with my love of children and fashion, we researched several possibilities, and it just fell into place," Ann Martin said. "We wanted to make sure it was something Conway didn't have and something Conway could sustain."
The couple spent several months doing research on various aspects of the business. Each of them has previous business experience; Ann Martin worked about 17 years in the insurance, retail and marketing industries, and Chris Martin has a background in retail and technology.
Chris Martin said, "We did the demographics, the traffic studies â€¦ (Finding a location) was a big thing. We felt like Conway needed this and it was a good fit."
Ann Martin added, "We love the downtown atmosphere. It's like a family."
The Martins have two boys, Hunter, 13, and Walker, 1, who also spend a fair amount of time at the store.
"It's a family affair," Chris Martin said. "(During) our inventory, we were all up here together on a Sunday. It definitely takes a lot of hours."
During the months of planning, the couple also talked to previous owners in the same industry to learn what business practices were successful and which brands were popular. They now have more than 70 brands of clothing, 30 brands of accessories, bedding, and furniture. Custom items include bows, embroidery, tutus, and hand-painted signs. The store also carries some merchandise from local crafters.
Regarding the look of the girls' clothing line, Ann Martin said they have everything from "that sweet, soft look to a little bit of edgy."
Chris Martin said, "It's something different you don't find when you go to the big box stores."
An item that is selling like hotcakes right now is bottle caps, the couple said. Hand-painted by an Arkansas craft maker, the bottle caps are very popular with little girls, Chris Martin said. He demonstrated how one is affixed to a necklace fitted with a small washer.
"Bottle caps are the hot item. You might have a slowdown on certain items, but one is always hot," he said.
The store also carries school uniforms for girls and boys.
Ann's Trendy Kidz has a baby registry and a birthday registry for kids. Customers can shop online at www.annstrendykidz.com. The Martins send out a newsletter via e-mail to customers who are interested, and they are also on Facebook and Twitter.
"We let people know what's in, what's popular for next season," Ann Martin said. "We try to keep up and let our customers know what's hot."
As for what is popular now, Ann Martin said, "The 80s is back. Ruffles, peace signs, embellishments on jeans, animal patterns, denim-style leggings, zippers â€¦"
As the Martins look toward the future, they envision new services for their customers.
"We've had customers ask us if we're going to do parties, so we're trying to get our party room set up," Ann Martin said. She said they will also offer classes, such as scrapbooking and possibly summer activities for children.
Ann Martin said of her business, "I love it. It is very rewarding and exciting to me. I see the parents come in, and they rave about the store and the selection and everything we have and the look of it. It makes us feel wonderful knowing we have brought something to Conway that Conway didn't have before â€¦ and that we can keep that business in Conway."