BY LEE ANN SANDWEISS
On-trend fashion found a new niche in Bloomington this year with the opening of Niche Boutique at 601 N. College.
“If it’s boring, we don’t want it in here,” says owner Erica Lundeen. “I look for pieces that look like they’d be found in high-end stores. Our price point is under $100, with most of the dresses in the $30 to $50 range, but our products look more expensive.”
A customer who steps inside and does a quick scan of Niche Boutique will register pops of color, sparkle, and texture. The racks and display areas, all thriftily but imaginatively fashioned by Lundeen, are laden with the latest looks: high-low tunics and dresses, lace and cutout separates, bold graphics, Chanel-inspired fringed jackets, and studded accessories and jewelry. For fashionistas who favor black, there’s plenty of that, too.
“We have basics in black—but with a twist,” says Lundeen, who does all of the buying for the store. In 2009, the Zionsville native returned to Indiana from the West Coast and opened the first Niche Boutique in Indianapolis’ Broad Ripple neighborhood. Lundeen, who studied fashion design in college in Colorado, says she is a natural-born retailer.
“I had my first retail management job before I could drive,” she explains. “After college, I stayed out west and gravitated to retail because I could earn more than if I was in entry-level fashion design. When I was getting close to thirty, I started to crave a slower pace of life. On a trip back to Indiana to visit my family, I saw the space for the Broad Ripple store was available. Everything happened very fast. Within two months, I was back in Indiana.”
Opening a store in Bloomington was a logical move, says Lundeen. “I have always liked Bloomington. It has good energy and is a great college town. This space practically fell into my lap. It’s almost too good to be true.”
While college-age women are the majority of Niche Boutique’s customers, Lundeen says the store attracts young mothers, women in their 40s and 50s, and even grandmothers.
“Our accessories and jewelry are very popular with women of all ages,” she says. “We have things that you’re not going to see anywhere else in town, or maybe even in Indiana. If you buy it here, you’re going to get a compliment.”