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REDLANDS – Many businesses launch Web sites once they get their storefront up and running. Shop Suey Boutique has done the opposite. Heather and Ben Gray launched their business online out of their home more than 10 years ago, and opened a storefront in Redlands partly to handle all the shipments. “I didn’t do any promoting – it was `Oh, we’re here,’ ” said Heather, who opened Shop Suey on Orange Tree Lane in July 2007 and moved to the neighboring building in July 2009. “People were like, `You were online for 11 years?’ ” said employee Megan McCall.Gray said once people discovered the store, it became like a hidden treasure. “People stumbled in and were buying stuff – that was not my only goal,” she said. “But it all evolved and I jumped on it quick. Shop Suey built an online following for handbags and accessories like sunglasses. A recent and store-only addition is clothes – which have been flying off the shelves, Gray said – and two more dressing rooms than the previous space.”People were coming in and asking,” Gray said. “They might buy a handbag every three to four months – they could buy a shirt every week.”The Grays keep the Web site fresh by keeping collections small and changing them frequently. Heather is making YouTube videos of herself demonstrating handbag features.”It’s almost like real life,” she said. The boutique was recently featured in People magazine – its “Fleur” tote bag, selling for $58, was pictured next to actress Eva Longoria carrying a similar YSL bag valued at more than $2,000.”It was the issue Tiger Woods was in – it was a great issue to be in,” Gray said. “I still have orders coming in for that bag.” For all its Web presence, Shop Suey has become locally involved, lending accessories for fashion shows benefiting cancer research and donating items to Redlands Community Hospital’s gift shop. “It’s fun, just being part of something,” Gray said. She said she has gotten to know a lot of people around town since opening the store. “It’s a different feeling being an online business and being real,” she said. “You’re in cyberspace and just e-mailing people – here when people come in you see their reactions.” She said Redlanders are loyal customers – some have shopped there since the business started, and word of mouth helps keep the business afloat. “Shop Suey Boutique is all the rage in Redlands,” said Redlands Chamber of Commerce membership director Pernella Sommerville. Sommerville said the Grays have been active in the community from the day they opened Shop Suey. “And every detail of their business is exemplary,” she said.The Grays also partner with other businesses, like neighbor Bella Visage Salon and Spa and Dream Dinners. They co-sponsored a cancer fashion show with Bella Visage and give customers Dream Dinners coupons.
E-mail Staff Writer Joy Juedes at firstname.lastname@example.org