When the cut ribbon fell at Humming Arrow boutique May 2, city leaders cheered. Retail women’s clothing returned to Preston after a 30-year absence, according to a press release by mayor Richard Betts.
Humming Arrow is prominently located on Preston’s main commercial street, right across from City Hall.
Nicki Smith, 31, is the owner and proprietor of the women’s boutique, which features fun, classy and easy style, from overalls to leopard prints to clothing with a boho or a Western flair.
The business itself isn’t new: Humming Arrow started online and moved into an enclosed trailer at Smith’s home north of Sabula. Smith took the trailer to pop-up vendor shows and events such as the Jackson County Pro Rodeo, which she says she’ll continue to attend.
At Preston’s holiday festival last year, Smith made the connections that led Preston Growth and Development to approach her about the available space at 12 Gillet St.
Humming Arrow is open Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Smith hopes to expand hours and possibly add staff in the future, but for now, her retail space has to fit with the other parts of her busy life, including a full-time job as an outside sales rep for Zylem, a rock and mulch retailer in Cordova, Illinois. She and her husband also have two small children.
“It’s based on my lifestyle,” Smith said. “I’m busy.”
Humming Arrow caters to busy moms and women such as herself who want the ease and convenience of something close to home, rather than driving an hour to a larger shopping center, she said.
“You need ease,” she said. “You need something quick.”
Smith developed the idea when pregnant with her now-5-year-old daughter. She found a niche for clothing that is flattering for moms, fun, sometimes simple but sometimes with bling or eye-catching prints.
There’s a playroom in the back of the boutique, as well as a small fridge stocked with drinks and comfy seating.
Smith honed her marketing and promotional skills with her online business, thehummingarrow.com, and on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. She works to assemble an entire outfit for customers, from accessories to shoes to bralettes and camis underneath and kimonos over top.
Helping customers feel comfort in new styles is a matter of building “trust in the relationship,” she said.
Smith has built up a strong following online, and she said she asks her “tribe” of customers what they want to see more of, as well as participating in online communities of boutique retailers.
Her “bread and butter” are KanCan jeans, stretchy fashion jeans that come in a variety of styles. She carries clothing in small through 3X styles throughout the store.
Smith said she was “pleasantly surprised” by the large turnout at her grand opening. She said she received great feedback about having the option available in the Preston area and had the opportunity to meet some of her online customers in person for the first time.
As for the name, with its hummingbird logo, Smith said it plays on several themes. It honors her grandmother, who loved hummingbirds. It recalls a Native American prayer that refers to the fierce and courageous spirit of the tiny hummingbird. And the arrow is a reminder to her customers who face adversity in their lives.
“An arrow, when it’s pulled back, is propelled forward,” she said.