Biz of Month: Crush Boutique
by Joan Conrow
Crush Boutique in Kapa`a represents a dream come true for Dana Abell.
“I always wanted to open a store with really cute things,” says Abell, who had no prior retail experience. “Little boutiques are my favorite to shop in, and we really don’t have very many on Kaua`i. I just decided to do it, and I did it.”
Crush officially opened the day after Thanksgiving — Black Friday, the busiest shopping day of the year — and as the boutique approaches its one-year anniversary, Abell is pleased with its progress. “It was a good time to open,” she says.
Abell, who co-owns the shop with her mother, Dorina San Augustine, is satisfied with how their vision of the boutique has taken shape.
“We wanted to feature local people doing cool stuff that is not your stereotypical Hawaiian old prints and crafty stuff, but new designs,” Abell explains. “Plus it saves us money on shipping and we can support local businesses.”
Launching the shop also served as a welcome distraction for Abell, whose husband passed away from cancer just a few months prior to the grand opening. “It was a good way to channel my energy,” she says.
Abell works mornings while her two children, Kala, 8, and Alena, 4, are in school, and San Augustine takes the evening shift, eliminating the need to hire employees.
Abell has found the partnership with her mother useful in other ways, too. “She does all the paperwork and bookkeeping,” Abell says, “and her eye for stuff is totally different than mine, which caters to a totally different demographic. We carry clothes from toddler to 3X so we don’t leave anybody out.”
With its colorful array of fashionable hats, jewelry, clothing, purses, shoes, sunglasses, headbands and other items, Crush is a magnet for those who are seeking apparel that is out of the ordinary.
“It’s neat to see new and innovative ideas,” remarked a shopper who happened to be in the store during the interview.
Abell enjoys attending trade shows to look for merchandise, but prefers to sell the creations of Kaua`i residents. “You’re helping them and they’re helping you. We look for stuff that’s really well made with an original design that’s all their own. And we try to keep it affordable for local people.”
Crush’s clientele is an equal mix of visitors and locals, and Abell credits her location next to Longs Drugs in the Kaua`i Village Shopping Center with generating ample foot traffic.
“One of our busiest times is late afternoon, when all the young girls come in while their mothers are grocery shopping at Safeway,” she says.
In another nod to the young set, Abell uses social media, including Facebook and Instagram, to promote the boutique and highlight the arrival of new merchandise. She has also hosted fashion shows that feature Crush’s apparel.
Though raising two kids, running a store and attending Kaua`i Community College can prove daunting at times, Abell loves being her own boss and working in the shop.
“You meet a lot of interesting people,” she says. “You never know who you’re going to be able to talk to.”
She also encourages others to follow their dreams.
“You never know if you’ll succeed unless you try it. You don’t want to turn it into one of those things you wish you would have done.”
Crush Boutique is open 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 821-0000.