Anne Kouba (right), RazMaTaz store manager, has worked at the store for 11 years serving returning and new customers from Pueblo and out of town.
Anne Kouba (right), RazMaTaz store manager, has worked at the store for 11 years serving returning and new customers from Pueblo and out of town.

RazMaTaz

Established: 1988

Employees: 5

Location: 335 S. Union Ave., Pueblo

Contact: shoprazmataz.com; 719-544-3721

While preparing to mark its 30th anniversary, a woman-owned store in Pueblo was recognized for its contributions to the business community. In September, RazMaTaz received the first Spotlight on Local Business Award from the Pueblo Board of County Commissioners. The store won the award because of its sponsorship and support of events for organizations such as the Pueblo Zoo, the YWCA and the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center.

The clothing and accessory boutique, which sits on a block surrounded by several other woman-owned businesses, changed ownership a year ago.

Current owner Megan Miller said it is important to support local businesses.

“Getting the word out there that things are going on — we try to advertise locally and just support a lot of that,” Miller said. “When people come around and say, ‘Hey, do you want to advertise in the symphony’s playbill?’ Sure. … Because we know that helps them and it helps us.”

Miller attributes the shop’s community involvement and long-time success to its first owner, Judy Lee, who opened RazMaTaz in 1988.

“I think Judy did a great job by laying the foundation,” Miller said. “She was always excited and always ready to go.”

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Miller, who started working at RazMaTaz setting up displays in 1994, began running the store in 2011 after she tried teaching first grade and decided education wasn’t for her.

Lee has Parkinson’s disease and was unable to operate RazMaTaz on her own when Miller purchased the operation from her in September 2016.

Customers who know Lee continue to shop there since it’s switched hands, perhaps partly because of the personal thank-you notes and phone calls they receive from Miller and the shop’s manager, Anne Kouba, who has worked there for 11 years.

And when Miller and Kouba scout new styles and accessories to place in the store, they try to keep their regulars in mind, Miller said.

“We pay attention to who our customer is,” she said. “What they like, what they don’t like, and we give them a nice experience when they are here. Sometimes they don’t find anything here, but we still are happy to see them. We enjoy talking with our customers — our customers are our friends.”

Kouba said RazMaTaz offers a personal shopping experience.

“We try to know people’s names, we try to fit them with what we think they’ll like,” Kouba said. “It’s unique. There’s not another place like this in town. We try not to have too many of one style.”

Kolleen Caricato, who lives in Pueblo, said she has shopped at the boutique for more than 20 years, and she brings friends from out of town when they visit.

“I would call [RazMaTaz] unique, but classy and classic,” Caricato said. “Because things that I bought years ago I can still wear. I get compliments all the time on clothes from here.”

Despite praise from its customers, in the past few years the business’ revenue has decreased, going from $235,000 in 2015 to $226,000 in 2016. The store’s revenue this year is more than $200,000, Miller said. This is significantly lower than the store’s revenue in 2008, when it brought in more than $270,000.

Miller said the internet has cut into brick-and-mortar sales, especially among younger customers.

“My daughter, she’s 17. When they do homecoming their automatic place to go to is the web. She mentions Amazon in every sentence,” Miller said. “When you don’t support those local businesses it really does make a difference. Just be better aware of where your dollars are spent, where they go, how they affect you. …  When you do spend it on the internet, zero dollars stay in your community.”

Miller’s advice to other small businesses: To be successful you have to commit to your store full-time — it’s not a task you can accomplish on just evenings or weekends.

“Just know what you’re going to do and don’t do it halfway,” Miller said. “Don’t do it partially. Make sure that you put your whole self into it and you’ll be successful.”