The Shopkeeper Chronicles: Abbode

The Shopkeeper Chronicles: Abbode

Nov 27, 2023

Shops around the corner abbode interview
Shops around the corner abbode interview

Nestled on Elizabeth Street is a shop that’s an ode to what you imagined your NYC apartment would look like. Abbode is a home decor boutique that’s gained serious attention for its custom embroidery services. We had the pleasure of chatting with its founder Abigail Price about how her ability to identify trends helped her open Abbode and transform it into a thriving, embroidery business. 

Why did you open Abbode? 

I had been doing a small-scale version of Abbode out of my apartment before COVID, and I called it Abigail Home. I was selling dried floral arrangements and vintage stuff. I was also in grad school at the time. I was finishing up grad school, and I didn’t know what I was going to do next. This way May 2021. I had done some pop ups that had done pretty well, and a couple of other young women had opened stores in the city like Funny Pretty Nice. I spoke with the owner of Funny Pretty Nice and walked out thinking if these other young women can have stores then I can do it too. I was like why wait. I started telling everyone I knew that I was going to open up a store. I opened Abbode of May 2021. 

Talk to us about the evolution of your embroidery services.

I actually bought the embroidery machine in December of 2021, right after my first holiday season. We had a great holiday season, so I had a little bit of money left over. Instead of being responsible and saving that money for the winter time, I decided to buy an embroidery machine. I put the machine in the basement, and I didn't even start using it until that summer. We did all of our embroidery in the basement, and I was telling customers upstairs we did embroidery and it just wasn't connecting with anyone. I didn't understand why people didn't get it. 

Then we had to service our machine. Since the machines were kept in the basement, we decided when we brought them up to get serviced we'd also do an event with free same-day embroidery and see how it goes. And it went so well. People went crazy. I went from having one machine in my basement to never bringing the machine back down, keeping it upstairs, buying more embroidery machines, and renovating the whole store to accommodate the machines.

Have you done any marketing to support the embroidery? 

I still to this day have done no marketing other than gifting to a few influencers. It's been all word of mouth, and embroidery is overtaking our sales. Things were so slow this past winter and since we've introduced the embroidery our sales are up 3x from what they were. 

How did you drive foot traffic to your embroidery event? 

I'd post on our Instagram and also invite our customers to come. People responded well and were so excited about the embroidery. I think I have a knack for identifying trends. I mean embroidery has been around, and it's a massive business, but the trend of embroidery is just getting started. I'm good at picking up on these little trends and trendy symbols. For example, I've been doing these things with embroidered martinis with an olive, and that's a trend. What's so cool about embroidery is that I can adapt it to whatever the trendy symbols or icon is. It's never going to go out of style. We also can use it in any industry - sports, hospitality, fashion, jewelry, etc - and collaborate with brands. We did a collaboration with Susan Alexandra and turned their well-known beaded charms into embroidery designs and placed them on napkins, tote bags, and t-shirts. You can take the essence of any brand, in any business, and turn it into something having to do with embroidery.  

What advice would you give someone who wants to open a shop? 

Make sure what you're doing is different. Why are people going to want to come into your store? Since you can order everything online, you need to make sure what you're offering is unique and different. 

My next piece of advice is to just start it and figure it out as you go. If you spend too much time thinking about everything and overanalyzing it's never going to happen.

How can brands better support retailers like Abbode? 

I love Faire as an option. If a brand is on Faire and I can buy it with Net-60 terms then I'm like BUY.

It would be cooler to get exclusive things more often. For example, there's a candle brand, Annapolis Candle, that will let me create a custom design with them. I wish other brands would do that too because I know what my customers want. 

What advice do you have for other shop owners? 

It's just so important to not pigeonhole yourself and to constantly be changing and evolving based on what your customers are interested in. When I first started making dry floral arrangements, if you told me that I would end up having a custom embroidery business, I would have  been like what are you talking about? How do I get from dry floral arrangement to embroidery? What does that in-between look like? I would have had no idea how to get there! Always be open to new things. 

Also, hire a bookkeeper.

You can learn more by following Abby at @shopabbode or @abbyeprice