Economy forces local boutique to shut down-WEB ONLY

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A massage chair and free beer helped Joanne Beck attract customers to her downtown clothing boutique when the economy was healthy, but no more. Joanne’s Unique Boutique, founded in November 2005, is shutting down at the end of June.

Beck, who had no prior experience in the retail business, blamed the company’s fate on the economy. The store did well for it first few month, but things changed as the economy faltered.

The store had been losing money for over a year, and Beck said she was fighting for every penny.

“The economy, that in a nutshell has been tough,” she said. “People aren’t shopping; they don’t have the money.”

Joanne’s Unique Boutique, 21 N. Pennsylvania St., sold an eclectic array of clothing and accessories, ranging from $38 sweaters to $200 belts.

To position herself in the market and increase sales, Beck offered customers the use of a massage chair at the store and a free beer or a soft drink as they shopped.

She also arranged “girls night out” appointments, where groups of women got the store to themselves for a night of shopping and comaraderie.

Beck, 51, had hoped to open a similar high-end men’s clothing store, but the plan failed. She still wants to pursue her idea of opening another store on the north side of Indianapolis some day, she said.

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