By Anthony J. Machcinski
With a new format and a revitalized energy, Body Couture opened its doors last Thursday.
The store, formerly known as Street Smart along Passaic Ave., converted to Body Couture under the same ownership of Jack Blanco, but with a revamped concept/ design.
“We’ve been in this space for almost 30 years,” Blanco said. “We were here previously as Street Smart and it got stale over the last few years so we went with a new business format.”
Blanco, a Brooklyn native, got his start in the fashion industry when he was young, working with his father, who founded Street Smart.
“I’ve always been in the fashion industry,” Blanco said. “It’s both a business and a hobby.”
Under the new format, Body Couture has expanded the store to include more departments such as makeup, bath and body products, lingerie and plus size apparel.
“It was a pretty long process,” Blanco said. “One thing lead to another and we were going to open a strictly intimate store, but started building up the concept more as we did research.
” In addition, the store includes a wider array of pricing.
“The customers in this area responded to the expanded pricing,” Blanco said. “In this area, they’re more sophisticated fashion wise. They drove us to increase and source better quality products and not be restricted to a lower price point.”
Blanco added, “They’re not just shopping for price. They want what they want.”
Blanco said that the store had to change in order to keep pace with customer demand.
“The way the economy has been the last few years, we feel like the business has to be fresh,” Blanco said. “If it’s sliding, the only way to turn that around was to come up with something that was more with the times.”
Blanco said customers have responded well to the change.
“The feedback has been very good,” Blanco said. “People’s purpose in here today (Thursday) is to shop. Everyone is loving the store.”
Store manager Valery Vargas added, “The customers have gone around and just stared at the store. They keep saying they love the whole setup.”
Even while going through a slowdown, Blanco never lost his love for the business.
“Retail is what I’ve done all my life,” Blanco said. “I’m a student of the game. I do my homework and see what everybody is doing across the country.”
As for the future of Body Couture, Blanco wants to continue to grow, both internally and externally.
“We just want to grow overall as a business, not just as a store,” Blanco said. “We want to be able to open additional units in lifestyle shopping centers and fashionable shopping districts.”
Body Couture is located at 160 Passaic Ave. in Kearny. For more information on the store, including store hours, visit its website at www.bodycouturestore.com.