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Welcome to our new series Birthday Bites, in which we celebrate boutiques—and their owners—on their anniversaries.
Photo: courtesy of Robin Richman
Bucktown boutique Robin Richman celebrates its sixteenth anniversary with an in-store bash tonight from 5 to 9 p.m. When she opened the doors to her gallery-like space in the northern end of Bucktown, owner Robin Richman was one of the first to set up shop in the now boutique-filled area. On the eve of the store's big birthday, we took a trip down memory lane with Richman to get the scoop on Robin Richman's history, evolution, and—most importantly—its current leather selection.
Let's go back to how it all began. What inspired you to open a store in the first place, and how is it unlike anything else on the local boutique scene?
Originally the store was opened to sell my knits and my friends' work. There was nothing on this side of Damen Ave. The condo building [that's now] across the street was a vacant lot, and one of the few things open was a Polish Bakery.
Looking back on your opening day, what advice would you give to your (then-) self?
[Get] more merchandise, and take out a loan.
How is 16-year-old Robin Richman (the store) different from the just-opened Robin Richman?
The space has changed quite a bit! Originally I lived in the back half of the store, until we expanded and moved our office to the very back. Then about seven years ago we did an entire store makeover and moved the office upstairs. The look for the clothing has changed as well. It's good to evolve when you've been in business for 16 years!
How different was the store-owning journey than you'd imagined it would be? What has been the most surprising thing about owning a store?
I opened in December with hand-knit sweaters—and by summer, I realized I didnt have anything to sell. I had opened the store for fun and really without any business plan, I quickly had to get it together and become a business woman. The most surprising was that I turned out to be a great business minded person!
What do you love about owning a store in Bucktown? And, any challenges that come with that particular neighborhood?
Being that we are at the end of Bucktown, we don't get quite as much foot traffic as stores that are closer to the train stop. Luckily, more shops are opening up on our end of the neighborhood so more and more people are making the walk.
What about your job makes you giddy?
Doing what I love.
Please tell us about some of your most memorable customers over the years.
I just feel lucky that we have had some of the most loyal and amazing woman shopping here. Some that bought sweaters from me even before I opened the shop!
And, blowing out the (real or imagined) candles on Robin Richman's birthday cake... what's your wish?
That the next 16 years with be as amazing as the first!
· Robin Richman [Official Site]
· All Robin Richman coverage [Racked Chicago]
· All Birthday Bites coverage [Racked Chicago]