When Athan Loukakis, a teenage boy from Greece, arrived in Manitou Springs as a foreign exchange student many years ago, it never occurred to him that he would become a long-time resident of Colorado, leaving behind the beloved culture and extravagant beauty of the Mediterannean. […]
Category: Behind The Business
A TEXT CHANGED EVERYTHING Nicole Jones and her husband owned a furniture store in Aurora, Colorado where they gave every moment of their lives to operating their store. Their young daughter grew up among the refurbished dressers, bookshelves, stacks of inventory boxes, and tucked behind […]
I love boutiques. I love their owners. I love their stories. Boutique owners work hard to offer a truly unique experience and I find that these little shops often reflect the creativity and personality of their owners. When I walk into a small boutique I see not just apparel or gifts – I see a story.
One of the most interesting and fun boutiques I’ve ever been to is Barracuda Bazaar, located in Old Colorado City next door to Bon Tons Café. Barracuda Bazaar is darling, whimsical, and still trendy even after 20 years in business, just like her owner, Kim McKenna. Kim is a petite, spunky, and gorgeous woman who looks half her age and her love of life is evident as soon as you walk in the door. Give yourself plenty of time to peruse through all her vintage-inspired gifts that will give you a chuckle, locally made lotions, plus her impeccable selection of clothes and accessories. Her customers are some of the most loyal around because her customer service and knack for the small details will make you feel like you’re one of the family.
CELEBRATING 20+ YEARS
Longevity seems to be the hallmark for this boutique as they recently celebrated 20 years in business. Before Kim owned the store she was a regular customer at Barracuda Bazaar. Over time, she became friends with the owner and a fan of the store. Kim said she always admired the store and when she was in need of a part-time job, working at the boutique was a perfect fit. Soon it wasn’t long before she was approached and given the opportunity to take over ownership. At the time, our nation was in the middle of a recession and she was cautioned that banks were not loaning to small businesses at the time. However, Kim and her husband believed that if this was the direction God had for them He would “roll out the red carpet”. Miraculously, within 30 days Kim and her husband Rick were the proud and pleasantly surprised owners of Barracuda Bazaar! What started as a part-time job turned into a family business with her husband helping around the store and her daughters modeling for photo shoots and even accompanying Kim on buying trips. There’s no better way to stay in touch with the latest trends than with savvy young women constantly available for advice. Sounds like a perfect fit for this beautiful, outgoing and fashion-conscious family!
The Barracuda staff have a wonderful understanding of marketing and merchandising that enables them to keep loyal customers and maintain a store that is vibrant and alive. With an eye for great products, always having the best attitude, and possessing an immense heart for young women are several of her admirable traits. You will find Barracuda Bazaar regularly partnering with local organizations that empower young women from a wide variety of backgrounds and needs.
Owning a boutique plays into Kim’s heart and soul – loving people. She says she is no fashionista and her girls (not only her daughters but the many young women that she invests her life in) are the ones who keep her on top of fashion trends. In turn, Kim wants to create an environment where she can speak encouragement, love, and value to her girls and the women that come in her door.
When asked what makes her boutique (and boutiques in general) stand out fro. Big Box or chain stores she says, “We keep it simple and we keep it about relationships. Small businesses that are doing really well are the ones who have a loyal customer base, and it’s because when the customer comes in, you TALK to them and know about their lives.” Kim even has a mascot to keep in touch with her customers, Barracuda Barbie, who is managed by one of her employees, Shannon. Kim added, “Barracuda Barbie never misses a birthday!”. (Visit Barracuda Barbie’s Page Here!)
As I look around the boutique I see a wide variety of options that appeal to just about every age. Kim, 47, is always dressed well and simply, and her daughter, Megan, 27, who is also her standing model, has the edge and youthfulness you would expect. As they work together they are able to provide a far reach in their style. Overall, the store is very comfortable and welcoming.
WHAT ABOUT THE NAME?
Before I left I had one more question for Kim that I’m sure everyone has: “Where did the name Barracuda Bazaar come from?!” Kim laughed and said, “The name comes from the fish. A barracuda is a survivor, scavenger, it can live in any condition. We are a survivor in a world where things come and go. We are sticking around!” Her loyal customers even refer to themselves as “Barracuda Babes” because they are fighters and survivors as well!
Below is an interview with Kim that we hosted on Periscope.
Make sure you stop by and look around Barracuda Bazaar for yourself and meet Kim with her darling staff.
You can find Barracuda Bazaar at 2603 W. Colorado Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80904