True to her Southern roots, when Texas native Audra Atkinson welcomes newcomers into her shop, she doesn’t consider them strangers, just friends she hasn’t met yet. Atkinson is the exuberant owner of House Boutique, a La Plata gem brimming with thoughtfully-curated home accents, floral arrangements, and local color galore.
If you pop by for a candle, locally-crafted jewelry, or a friendly hello, House Boutique is a place that doesn’t leave you. A devotee of fellow small businesses and all causes local, Atkinson has amassed quite a fan base. House Boutique’s Facebook reviews equally praise her wares (“I always find the perfect gift at your shop!”) and her warmth (“…the shop owner, Audra, is the most delightful person!”). Whether she’s telling the story behind a vintage teacup or giving home-staging advice, Audra makes every experience one-of-a-kind. “I hope that my southern hospitable ways will make people feel welcomed and at home; I want to make people happy by sharing stories, laughs and even their woes if need be,” she says.
What is the mystique behind House Boutique? Is it the free sparkle cupcakes, the festive shopping events, or the swag? Audra can’t pinpoint the answer, but she’s grateful for the support. “It’s all been a very mysterious ride,” she admits humbly.
A chat with Atkinson makes this an easy mystery to solve. She has a keen buyer’s eye and an ear tuned into what’s timeless—and trending—in the marketplace. “You’ve got to consistently evolve and change with the times,” she advises. True to her word, Atkinson recently took her style and business savvy to the next level. She now offers home staging and real estate expertise to her customer base.
House Boutique is one of many local businesses participating in the Small Business Saturday event, Shop La Plata, on November 30. Held on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, it encourages consumers to support small entrepreneurs with big offerings. House Boutique joins other businesses offering festive sales and treats amidst a backdrop of carolers, carriage rides, and cheer.
Participating in Small Business Saturday—and constantly evaluating the marketplace—are essential for aspiring retailers. According to the Small Business Association, small businesses have added more jobs than large businesses (500+ employees) since 2005. Attention to tastes, capital, and branding (on websites, social media, and within brick-and-mortar stores) boost chances for success. And above all, as Atkinson knows, hospitality seals the deal.
“I love what I do,” Atkinson says. Her commitment to her patrons and products will illuminate the path forward.
House Boutique has provided thoughtfully-sourced décor and accessories to Charles County residents for over a decade. With finds ranging from shabby chic to vintage classics, owner Audra Atkinson tailors her offerings to every budget.