Keri Stout, owner of Runway Boutique in downtown New Albany, likes the fact that fashion can give a person more confidence.
Runway Boutique is a great place to shop for the latest trends because Stout and her staff build relationships with the customers.
Stout can help advise customers on what type of clothing, jewelry or footwear they may like. She wants the customers to know they can come in and get help with whatever their needs are. For instance, someone may need help finding the right Easter dress or outfit for a wedding.
“That’s my passion,” she said, adding that it is not unusual for her to meet someone at the store afterhours to help them. “It’s going to be a personal experience. We’re going to help you. We’re going to be hands-on and make sure that you’re happy with whatever you get.”
Runway Boutique has been open almost 11 years and was originally located across the street where Southern Blue is now. When she first opened, Stout was renting a building and has since purchased the space she is in now.
Stout, who grew up in Ingomar, graduated from Ingomar Attendance Center and then attended Ole Miss where she earned a degree in business. After college, she taught high school math at Ingomar for seven years and then opened Runway Boutique and stopped teaching.
“This is what I always dreamed of doing,” she said. “It’s a risk in the beginning. It’s been great. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Stout and her husband, Corey, and their two children, Briley and Paisley, live in Ingomar. Corey works for his family’s business in Oxford called Stout’s Carpet. Stout loves the Ingomar area, saying everyone is like family.
“We do everything we can to support the teams and the school,” she said, adding that she supports the other schools as well.
She also has three sisters and brother.
“We’ve got a huge family,” Stout said.
Stout has always loved fashion even before so many things went online.
“I’ve always lived it and breathed it,” she said.
She recalls getting fashion magazines in the mail, saying, “I just couldn’t wait to get my monthly magazine in the mail to see the new styles of the season.”
She likes the fact that there are always new trends in fashion. “It’s never the same thing.”
Stout also likes how fashion can make a person feel after they have been outfitted from head to toe.
“That’s what I love about it more than anything is the customer relationship and all the friends that you make . . .,” Stout said.
Runway Boutique also does a lot of online business through its website, www.runwayboutiquems.com. She also has Facebook and Instagram pages for the business.
“I get to ship orders out every day to go to different places,” Stout said, adding that even local people order items online.
But she never wants her business to go solely online, saying she likes the customer interaction.
Runway Boutique stays busy and sells dresses, jeans, tops, shoes, handbags, jewelry, sunglasses and other items. People come from out of town and spend the day shopping downtown, she said.
“Customers come here from just random places,” she said, noting that a couple from Ohio stopped in during spring break. She also has customers from Memphis, Oxford and Pontotoc.
“We have a lot of Tupelo customers,” she said.
Lately, Runway Boutique has been getting in a lot of spring merchandise.
“Easter’s coming up, so it’s been crazy busy with people getting their Easter dresses,” Stout said. “Everybody needs a new spring wardrobe this year because with Covid last year nobody went anywhere.”
Runway Boutique gets in new merchandise every day so there is always something fresh for customers to see. Having a business in downtown New Albany is “the best,” she said.
“I like the quaintness of it,” Stout said. “I like that you know everybody and everybody’s like family.”
When hard times happen, businesses step up to help those in need, she said.
“We all go in together to help that one family in need,” Stout added.
The foot traffic downtown is also great, and people come in the store and say how much they like New Albany, she said.
The clothing sold at Runway Boutique can be worn for a variety of different occasions such as work, date nights, church or lounging, she said. Sizes run from extra-small to extra-large, and the clothes are comfortable and high quality, she said.
She strives to have an “inviting” atmosphere for customers, saying, “No matter who they are I want them to feel welcome.”
And no matter what budget a person is on, she tries to find something to meet their needs. Runway Boutique features an extensive sale area with items marked down 50 to 70 percent off. She tries to keep the sale area full so people have a lot of stuff to choose from.
Gift certificates are also available at Runway Boutique, which has a large selection of merchandise for people of a variety of ages.
Stout is always looking for new merchandise, new brands and new ways to decorate the store. She carries many brands, and some of them include Free People, Z-Supply, Vintage Havana sneakers, Dear John and Bracha jewelry.
“Sneakers are just where it’s at this year,” she said. “It’s a major trend.”
She is always decorating the store to keep it fresh for the customers. Stout “genuinely” looks at each customer individually and helps them find something that is good for their lifestyle and body type. She wants the customers to feel special and wants them to have a positive experience at Runway Boutique.
Stout has many repeat customers and has gotten to know many of them very well.
Runway Boutique’s inviting atmosphere features hardwood floors, an ornate ceiling, attractive displays and fitting rooms. Stout said she thinks the store has kind of a Bohemian feel.
She thinks the other downtown merchants are “wonderful.”
“I don’t look at anything as competition,” she said, adding that she will send customers to other local businesses if she does not have what they are looking for. “I try to help them in that way.”
Runway Boutique is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It can be reached at 662-598-2133.