New Business on Market Square: Bluetique Cheap Chic

Rachel Turner and Emma Gill behind the counter at Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Rachel Turner and Emma Gill behind the counter at Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

The latest of the occupants at 31 Market Square, Bluetique Cheap Chic is a clear departure from the previous tenants. Formerly a restaurant and, more recently, Riversports Outfitters, inexpensive, stylish clothing may be what the space has been waiting for. The store represents the Knoxville entry of a small chain based in Lexington, Kentucky.

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

One might guess that the “blue” in Bluetique Cheap Chic comes from its origins in the bluegrass state or even as a reference to the university sports program in which the store originated. Rachel Turner and Emma Gill, who were working in the store when I visited,  said that it derived from the initial focus on blue jeans and denim. The store did very quickly add University of Kentucky items to its inventory and that quickly became a focus.

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

As the owners looked toward expanding, they began replicating the idea: They located in college towns next to campus and sold an abundance of game-day apparel tailored, of course, to the nearby school. In addition to the original Lexington location, they now have stores in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Oxford, Ohio, Charlottesville and Harrisonburg in Virginia and, now, in Knoxville.

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Inside the Market Square store you’ll find dresses, jewelry and large quantities of the aforementioned game-day apparel. I didn’t see anything inside the store representing any other teams, so for each local store the selection is for that school’s team only. The prices, as the name of the store implies, are intended to be lower than you might expect. Online the prices for dresses start around $40, with most of them falling between $50 and $70.

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Rachel and Emma pointed out that this is the first store in the chain that is not located adjacent to campus. The idea is that enough UT students inhabit Market Square to make the concept work. I think they may find that non-UT students also become patrons of their store. It is clearly designed for young women, but I can see the typical college demographic shifting to include young and somewhat older women.

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

It is definitely a store designed for beautiful, young women. The models are beautiful, young women. The employees are beautiful, young women. And larger dresses didn’t seem to be in large supply. It’s not so much a store that a lot of men will flock to, though there was a family inside when I visited. And that, actually, made for an interesting story.

Bluetique9, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

The family was from New Jersey and looking to relocate somewhere in this region. They were staying in Gatlinburg and decided to spend a day in Knoxville. It sounded as if they had a pretty good day going, but wanted more information about the city. The girls really worked hard to give them the information they needed and tried, unsuccessfully to print a map of local points of interest. It made me wonder if Visit Knoxville might want to spread a few brochures and other materials around the square just for such occasions. The girls said they’d had customers from all over, including some from Japan in the two weeks they’ve been open.

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

Bluetique, 31 Market Square, Knoxville, August 2013

So, there you are. Are you young, beautiful and female? You’ll probably find yourself drawn to this new store. For me, well, I’m still waiting on a Grumpy Old Man’s Haberdashery. Not that I’m any of those things, it’s just that I think that’s what downtown needs next.  Anyone up for an investment opportunity?

Comments

  1. Christian Spratt says

    While I love Market Square and support as many shops in that area as possible, I have to take exception to the following quote from this article.
    “It is definitely a store designed for beautiful, young women. The models are beautiful, young women. The employees are beautiful, young women. And larger dresses didn’t seem to be in large supply.”
    This would seem to imply that a young woman of a larger size is not a beautiful young woman and would perhaps have no reason to frequent this shop. This seems discriminatory at a minimum. Perhaps more appropriate wording could be used and perhaps shops that cater to the younger woman or college student should carry sizes to fit every girl. The national average is close to a size 12. Limited size options only contribute to the cycle of bad body image, eating disorders, and social stress placed on young women today. I find nothing beautiful or fun about that.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      Good points, all. I should have inserted the word “thin” in my description. I was trying to make the point you made in much better fashion. Thanks.

  2. Downtown Asheville and Charleston have cartoony downtown maps similar to this one (http://www.hudsoncity.net/temporary/imagestheater/ashville-map.gif) that are really helpful. I’m assuming they’re produced by the same company. Visit Knoxville should get on that.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I forwarded that suggestion to Visit Knoxville. It’s a good one.

      • Thanks! I’ll email them too. Maybe if enough people suggest it…

        It really would make a tremendous difference, and it shouldn’t be that difficult to do. On the maps I’ve seen in Asheville and Charleston only certain businesses are listed, so presumably those shops/restaurants/etc. pay ad dollars to be on the map, which would alleviate cost (but could also be a limitation, of course).

  3. I like the idea of maps around in stores to hand out. I also like the idea of having more signs around downtown directing tourists to various sites. These ideas needed to happen yesterday.

  4. I try to avoid shopping in any store that sells Vols apparel. lol.

  5. I’ve belonged to a relocation forum for years. It seems like there is a very large uptick of people wanting to move to Knoxville, recently. I’ve spent thousands of hours helping and being a massive cheerleader for this city but even I’m starting to wonder if I should stop spreading the word. That’s my long, convoluted way of saying I’m not thrilled with maps. On the other hand, we really do need them for tourists so I actually do agree. We need some sort of brochure pointing out what there is to do and where.

    By the way, my 13-year-old daughter will love this store!

  6. Given how many football fans park downtown on game days, I think they’re plenty adjacent to campus.

  7. I’ve thought about opening a haberdashery before! I think it would be so fun.

  8. Mary Holbrook says

    The News Sentinel article about Bluetique said that all the OTHER stores (my emphasis) were in walking distance of campus. Implication that this one isn’t. Of course those of us who live downtown would differ with that – campus IS within walking distance and even sight of downtown. I sometimes check the time by reading the Ayres Hall clock.

  9. I was thinking about the name and how easily Bluetique morphs into Blue tick, which is of course the breed of dog that represents the University of Tennessee. Happy coincidence!

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