La Strada owners follow gut instincts

Amy and Eric Maxwell are owners of the La Strada Boutique. Mail Tribune / Bob PennellBob Pennell

Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.

What do you do and how long have you been doing it? (Eric speaking) We have men's and women's high-end clothing, home decor and a little bit of children's stuff as well and recently moved into a new store in the Northgate Centre Marketplace. We opened our original Papillon Rouge store out on North Phoenix Road in 2001. We opened our second store on Main Street in 2002 because we saw a lack of men's clothing in the lines we carry. We moved into McAndrews Market Place in 2007 with the idea of creating La Strada, a high-end boutique shopping mall with other boutiques. But the economy went down about that time and it just didn't happen. We ended up buying one boutique out and keeping the name.

Home Grown

Business: La Strada Boutique

Owner: Eric and Amy Maxwell

Address: 19 Rossanley Drive, Medford

Phone: 541-772-4045

Employees: Four

Email: pronmain@msn.com

Facebook: La Strada Boutique

How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? We've been here for about 11 years, moving up from Scottsdale, Ariz.

What inspired you to go into this line of work? My wife has been doing this about 18 years. When we first met, she was working in the retail business and she was always wanting to do her own thing. On a whim, we moved up here and started a boutique and it's been going strong ever since.

What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? I'd trust my instincts not to go against my gut feelings, which usually help you to do the right things. Any time we haven't done that, it's been a wrong decision. For example, bringing in certain clothing lines or styles we didn't think would sell. Then we brought it in anyway and it just didn't work. When we stick to our gut feelings and order specific to our area, we're better off. Geography has a lot to do with it, styles that work in California don't necessarily work here. Our customers like styles that are classic and timeless and aren't going to go out of style in a year or two. That's what we strive to bring in.

What's the toughest business decision you've made? The toughest was making our first expansion, going in on Main Street. We've seen plenty of stores expand and then it hurt them, but not in every case. We believe in slow growth and that's served us well, keeping it nice and small and not getting too greedy.

Who are your competitors? La Boheme in Jacksonville.

What are your goals? I'd like to see it running itself in five years, so I can get a vacation. We've been very fortunate to do as well as we have in light of the economy. We have a great community that has allowed us to do well, but for us two shops keeps us busy enough. Adding a new location would be adding stress we don't need.

What training or education did you need? My wife is a natural when it comes to retail women's clothing and was managing Dominique R in Scottsdale, Ariz., before we came here. I have a sales background, but I'm really a construction and military guy. I did real estate and mortgage lending before we came up here.

What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Take a chance, risk it. If you have a great idea, go for it. Anybody can "what if?" themselves out of anything. We still do that, but you have to push past that and take a risk. One thing my wife and I have agreed on is that we won't live our life with regret. If you try it and it doesn't work out, you can always try something else. The bottom line is take that risk.

To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email business@mailtribune.com.


Correction: A typographical error in the headline has been corrected.


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