You know the challenge. You need a gift for someone special; you want something that’s both personal and unique.
The Monogram Shop in downtown Overland Park aims to fill such needs. The Monogram Shop carries a variety of items including women’s and baby accessories, jewelry, writing papers, totes and duffels, as well as a special line of men’s belts and wallets. Items range in price from $15 up.
Julie Granstaff opened the store five years ago on her own; today Granstaff works alongside her sister Pam Gray and several part-time employees.
“I am trying to help behind the scenes handling special orders and working with staff,” said Gray, who joined her sister about six months ago. “This frees Julie to be out front and using her creativity in other ways like product display.”
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Granstaff opened the Monogram Shop after her two sons were in school full time. However, Granstaff was no stranger to retail business
Q: What is the owner’s business background?
“Julie went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and then went to work for Saks Fifth Avenue as a buyer,” her sister said.
After getting married and moving back to the Kansas City area to start her family, Granstaff dabbled in the monogram business. Operating out of her home, Granstaff used a special sewing machine and monogrammed items for a small group of customers. More people started asking about the items, and Granstaff saw an opportunity to expand.
“She thought it was a great niche in Kansas City that was missing, and she could reach more people than from her home,” Gray said. “With her retail background, it seemed like a natural fit.”
After visiting a few monogram shops in the St. Louis area, Granstaff attended the gift market in Atlanta to look for additional gift products. Self-financed, Granstaff decided to go into business as the Monogram Shop.
Q: How did you find the business location?
Granstaff wanted to open her business in Johnson County. She looked around and finally settled on a downtown Overland Park location on West 79th Street.
“She liked the vibe in downtown Overland Park, and it was much better pricing for the space,” said Gray, whose husband, an attorney, handled the lease negotiations.
One year ago, the Monogram Shop moved one block north to its current location on West 80th Street.
“We needed more space for display,” Gray said. “It’s brighter and more visible to people walking by and traffic.”
Q: How do you market the store?
Gray said the Monogram Shop has relied heavily on word of mouth to increase its customer base, and social media is in the mix, too.
“We’re exploring that,” Gray said. “We use Facebook and started an Instagram account and promote items there. … We’re not sure how to spend on that.”
The Monogram Shop has a website that includes e-commerce sales, but the number of items offered is limited. About 10 percent of the store’s sales come through its website.
“Online shopping is definitely competition, but we try to counter it by being very service oriented with our customers,” Gray said. “One of the things we do is you can bring in anything and we will monogram it for you.”
Q: How do you handle inventory?
The Monogram Shop carries hundreds of items, making the tracking of inventory a challenge.
“We are in the process of getting a new point of sales system that will help us better track inventory and what our customers purchase,” Gray said.
In the meantime, the sisters always look for ways to grow the business.
“We’re going to expand what we do including into the bridal area,” Gray said. “We may offer invitations or offer our own line of personalized items.”
IN A NUTSHELL
COMPANY: The Monogram Shop
ADDRESS: 7341 W. 80th St.; Overland Park, KS