La Muse fires up Leaside’s experience economy

Meet a Leaside Business

Owner Sarah Barr (2nd from left), with some of her business associates.
Owner Sarah Barr (2nd from left), with some of her business associates. Photo Suzanne Park.

Successful retailers continually surprise and delight their customers building loyalty and attracting new clients through glowing referrals. Sarah Barr and her partner Alison Camely, the owners of La Muse Boutique on Bayview, are glowing examples of a thriving customer-centric retailer.

Yet, how does a women’s wear shop stand out in a crowded marketplace? How do such retailers compete with the appeal of other bricks and mortar shops and online shopping?

La Muse prides itself on being more than just a shop featuring fashion and home-beautifying plants. They have stepped into the experience economy by offering time-crunched customers unique experiences.

Retail consultant Warren Vandal of GEOmarketing Solutions commends La Muse for “tapping into and contributing to the experience economy. They’ve designed a store that is visually appealing, that reflects clients’ values with elegant sustainable products, and that speaks to their customers’ time-crunched lives by combining shopping with valued lifestyle experiences. They’ve created a winning formula for Leaside’s customers, community and the shop owners.”

How do they do it? One way, according to customer and local realtor Gina Athanasiou, is “by making shopping easy. Sarah has a way of making me feel comfortable.” Floreen Cleary, also a realtor, said, “I’ve been a client of Sarah’s for years and love the ambiance of the store, the attentive assistance, and the lovely offerings.”

Another way of distinguishing themselves is by diversifying their offerings with a shop-within-a-shop. One example is Apricot Flowers, whose owner, Cathy Kim, says, “I was invited to set up a satellite shop within La Muse.”

For La Muse, offering experiences is an important way of setting the retailer apart. One such experience occurred on a winter morning when 30 dedicated women chose to spend their morning at an invitation-only yoga event.

Sarah welcomes the guests, as well as Marda Sperber, a certified reflexologist and Reiki master, whose soothing voice and gentle guidance led the group through a relaxing meditation. La Muse succeeded in providing an experience, a quiet respite to women with hectic lives. One guest summed it up: “It’s like we’re in a different world and busy Bayview is miles away.”

Sarah plans additional offerings that fit with her business vision, “to permit Leaside women to explore their authentic style through experiences and fashion inspired by local entrepreneurial women and designers with a Scandinavian flair and Parisian twist.”

About Suzanne Park 17 Articles
Suzanne Park is a leadership and conversation coach and writer who enjoys bringing to the pages of Leaside Life the unique experiences and community contributions of her Leaside neighbours. Her daughter Zhen, a student at Leaside High School, is also a contributor to Leaside Life with a fresh perspective on her community.