Whether you love shopping or hate it, Melissa Cunningham-Campbell’s goal at Monkee’s of Mountain Brook is to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
“Shopping should be simple and it should be stress-less,” she said.
Cunningham-Campbell first encountered the Monkee’s franchise, which has locations across the Southeast and in Texas, Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia, on a shopping trip with her daughter Caroline Campbell in South Carolina. She was not a fan of mall shopping and was pleased to find a boutique with a variety of items both she and her daughter enjoyed.
“To find multigenerational shopping together is kind of unique,” Cunningham-Campbell said.
After some research, Cunningham-Campbell opened an Auburn franchise. When Caroline graduated and wanted to work with her mother, they decided to open a new Mountain Brook store about three and a half years ago. This is now their sole location, and her son and husband have also lended their help.
“That has been a blast to be able to work with my daughter,” Cunningham-Campbell said. “I think being a family business is special.”
Fashion started as a hobby for Cunningham-Campbell rather than a career. A former critical care nurse, she would design and sew clothes for herself and her children as a way to unwind. Now she gets to flex her fashion sense anytime. Though Monkee’s is a franchise, each shop owner has a lot of independence in choosing the clothes they think their customers will enjoy.
It can be a lot of fun to go to markets and see new trends, where Cunningham-Campbell buys for the older crowd and her daughter scouts out younger trends, but Cunningham-Campbell said it takes a lot of work to make the right product choices.
“Buying for your customer: it can be so hard,” Cunningham-Campbell said. “You hope your customers are going to see what you see in it and love it.”
When she’s in doubt, Cunningham-Campbell said she also has the shared knowledge of other Monkee’s owners to lean on.
“You have another set of ears or another friend that you can call,” she said.
The attention to detail in choosing products to carry is part of why shoppers keep coming back to Monkee’s, Cunningham-Campbell said. The customers who walk in each have a different story and reason for being there, and Cunningham-Campbell likes getting to know them.
“I think the best boutique shopping is about the relationships you build with your customers,” she said.
Like any other friendship, a good relationship takes listening, understanding and a lot of time.
“With time and conversation, you do build that very slow. Every good relationship is built, I think, slow and steady,” Cunningham-Campbell.
When they can fix a fashion problem or put a smile on a customer’s face, Cunningham-Campbell feels like she’s doing her job the right way.
“If we make their day, it makes us happy,” she said.
Monkee’s of Mountain Brook is open Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 1-5 p.m.