Boutique builds lasting relationships with customers

When a patron walks into The Cottage Door in Katy, the person on the other side of the counter is likely to strike up a conversation. If that same customer comes back a week later, there is a good chance they will be greeted on a first-name basis.

"It's impossible to know all the new people who come in, but when we get people who have been here before, we make it a priority to know who they are," said John Nelson, who owns the boutique with his wife, Rosemary.

It may seem like a daunting goal for a business pulling in 25 to 30 customers daily, but that kind of customer service comes naturally to the staff working at The Cottage Door, according to John.

"We look to hire certain types of people who thrive in this kind of business environment," John said. "We try to make this the opposite of a big box store in every way that we can. Everybody that works here really loves working here, and the customers can feel that."

The Cottage Door, which mainly deals in jewelry, purses, home decorations and accessories, started out as a wholesale business specializing in homemade gifts, but the owners switched to retail after customers repeatedly asked to buy their products directly, Rosemary said.

After switching to retail in 1996, the business started stocking products from a variety of lines such as Brighton, Vera Bradley and Pandora. Today, it is the largest Brighton dealer in the Katy area.

Even though it mostly sells products from other lines now, The Cottage Door still maintains its own line of floral decorations and wreaths, which Rosemary makes herself and has been making since she opened the business in 1990. She said her inspiration for starting the business was her desire to have an outlet to be creative and design, so it was important to her to keep the floral line going.

"They're all originals, and they're all done by hand—every flower and every leaf," she said. "We've got a workstation and a whole 1,500 square-foot building stocked with materials."

The personal touch at The Cottage Door extends to how employees interact with customers. When someone new to the store buys something, the person who sold it to them will send a thank you note in the mail. When product promotions or new releases are upcoming, the staff is already aware of which of their customers are likely to be most interested and contacts them personally.

"We've been around this area for more than 18 years," John said. "When you've been around that long, you start seeing the relationships you build rather than just the business transaction."

Open House

  • Nov. 30, 4–8 p.m.
  • Dec. 1, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

The annual event features games, giveaways and promotions.

Activities in the past have included treasure hunts in the store and rounds of bingo

The main purpose of the event is to provide a social setting where staff and customers can interact

The Cottage Door, 1001 Ave. B, Katy, 281-391-1222,