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In the small town of Brocton, Illinois a boutique sits at the entrance of town. Anela Boutique is owned by Robin Wahl. Mrs. Wahl has lived in Brocton her whole life and owns a hair salon as well. “I’ve been in my salon for thirty-one, soon to be thirty-two years,” Robin said.
In 2014, Robin decided that she wanted to try something else. Robin along with her business partner opened Anela in Arcola. “It was tough, especially when you have a full time job and do your other jobs full time,” Wahl said.
After some time, the partners decided that it had become too much and the business was sold and they went out on their own. Robin bought the name and continued to run the boutique, but decided to go about it a different way. “I bought a truck and started traveling to different markets.”
The truck is similar to a UPS truck where customers are able to walk inside and shop. “You step in the back of it and shop. It’s really cool,” Robin said.
Wahl started attending Covered Bridge, Hob knob markets and Chicago markets. “I do hippy festivals, those are awesome.”
Being in such a small town, getting customers into the store can be a challenge. “You only get the business that comes into town. With mobile, you can travel to the people,” Wahl said. “That has worked out better for me because I can travel to them.”
Clothing at Anela Boutique is different from other boutiques when it comes to what she carries. “What I call it is inspired vintage, bohemian, and Stevie Knicks style,” Robin said. “I wanted something different and it definitely sets me apart. Nobody has anything like that.”
Twice a year, in January and July, Robin travels to Chicago and Atlanta to stock up on her inventory. These markets are the place where large chain stores like Macy’s, JC Penny’s and others do their shopping. The market takes up three buildings and some are fifteen or twenty stories high. “It’s everything. Furniture, little knick knack stuff, food. Anything you can think of.”
Robin also purchases her jewelry and purses from the market due to it being ‘cash and carry’.
“You can buy it and bring it home. Other stuff you have to buy it and have it shipped to you,” Wahl said.
A few years ago, Robin began doing live videos from the boutique to show her inventory. “My husband wanted me to try it to get more customers. He kept saying that it was the best way to do it,” Wahl said. “I tried it a couple of times and I couldn’t do it. It was scary.”
Knowing that the live feeds would help the business, Robin made the decision to do live feeds every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. no matter what. “I just decided that I was going to do it once a week and make myself do it,” Robin said.
The live feeds have allowed Robin to reach a bigger crowd. “I go places and people know me because of my lives,” Robin said. “We have a lot of fun.”
An online store may be in the future, but it’s not a top priority at the moment. Pieces from Anela Boutique are available at Coes Classy Cuts in Chrisman. Due to the weather, Robin has her boutique in her hair salon until the spring. “Most of my shows start in March or April, then I go through summer and fall is really big,” Wahl said. “Fall is probably the busiest season for traveling.”
If you would like to shop from Anela Boutique, be sure to search it on Facebook and tune in for the live videos every Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. You can also visit the boutique in Brocton at 104 West 3rd Street.
“I like to be unique. Fringe, cheetah and leopard print and pink. You can’t go wrong.”