Boutiques are small, highly specialized and fashionable stores that generally cater to a niche market. The word "boutique" means "shop" in French. It is derived from the Old French word "botica," meaning apothecary. Boutiques grow in popularity each year as people search for alternatives to mass- produced clothing and goods.
The economic boom following World War II prompted people to spend more money on material things. In the 1960s, people began experimenting with different patterns, styles and fabrics. Specialized garments and products in small shops, known as boutiques, began to appear. This was the beginning of boutique culture.
Boutiques sell elite and fashionable items including designer clothing and jewelry, handbags, shoes and hair accessories. Many boutiques specialize in hand-made or one-of-a-kind items. Others produce t-shirts and accessories in small runs and sell them for high prices.
There are two main types of boutiques--stand-alone and chain. Stand-alone boutiques generally have a single owner and location. Chain boutiques are owned by a larger company and can be located in wealthy areas around the globe. They may even be located within a larger department store or shopping center.
Boutiques can be found throughout the United States, France, Germany, England, India and many other countries. They are popular in tourist areas such as resort towns and areas with many wealthy residents. In modern times, many boutiques have websites which enable people around the world to purchase their products.
Boutiques offer many benefits such as availability of unique goods. Trendy products are available at most boutiques for lower prices than mainstream stores. High-quality items are associated with boutiques because they are often handmade or acquired directly from designers. When shopping at boutiques, the customer receives personal attention from staff due to the small size of the shop. High prices are also a benefit to many consumers because they attest the quality of the merchandise.