Shop Talk: Substance
In 2012, The Atlantic Cities noted that Columbus has the third highest number of fashion designers in the US, only trailing New York City and Los Angeles. Which means that Christina Getachew was ahead of the curve back in 2002 when she left a decade-long fashion career in city #1 to jump start a new business in city #3.
That business was Substance, originally founded as an online store featuring Getachew’s own tee shirt clothing label. In 2006, Substance made the leap into a brick-and-mortar boutiquedom with a Short North shop, and a second locale opened in the summer of 2012 in the up-and-coming Cincinnati neighborhood of Over-the-Rhine.
“In the years that we’ve been open, we’ve developed a loyal customer base and these are people that are hard core supporters of small business,” says Getachew. “Many of them are business owners themselves, or have moved here from other larger cities so they understand what a gem our Short North Arts District is.”
The Short North store still sells a lot of private label tee shirts, but Substance has also carved out niches with dresses, scarves (they sell a “scarfscription” service where recipients will receive a new scarf in the mail each month), and many different types of local handmade items.
“Customers are always surprised to discover that we have a lot of locally made fashion available,” says Getachew. “We still create our own line of product, all one-of-a-kind handmade designs that we call the Design Lab Collection, and we make it right there in the storefront so visitors get to witness the creative process. We also rent space to local designers to sell their product in our second floor loft space.”
While the business is growing and the Short North continues to expand as a shopping destination, the influx of new customers reveals that there’s still a large untapped market in the region for all types of local boutiques in urban neighborhoods.
“We still get a lot of foot traffic from people who live in the suburbs of Columbus and who don’t explore the Short North often,” explains Getachew. “It’s these interactions that prove that we still have a lot of people to convince that we (Substance and our neighboring businesses) offer a far better alternative to mall shopping.”
For more information, visit www.shopsubstance.com.