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Saturday, November 2, 2013 COLUMBIA DAILY TRIBUNE 3

Elly’s launches 9th & Elm for online sales E

lly and Clay Bethune, owners of downtown apparel retailer Elly’s Couture, are taking boutique designer fashion to the masses with a new online retailer: 9th & Elm. Elly’s Couture has had its own e-commerce site for a number of years, and the store has “done really well with handmade designers over the last couple of years,” Clay Bethune said. Now, they’ve launched 9thelm. com, which connects designers’ handmade apparel directly with their customers. The new site has only been around since the summer, but already it has about 26,000 registered users, Clay Bethune said. “We’ve done a lot on social media,” he said. “Pinterest especially has been a huge help for us. That draws a lot of new users to our site.” Unlike websites like, where anybody can post a craft or product for sale, the Bethunes pick what designers they partner with on 9th & Elm. That approach, known in the industry as a curated site, has taken off, and they keep users connected with daily newsletters about new designers and products available.

“We’re up to about 150 or more designers that we’ve showcased on our site,” he said. Customers like to follow particular designers or types of jewelry or clothes, and it’s easier to find what they’re looking for and interested in with a team of fashion experts narrowing down the site’s designers and products. Already, the site’s quick growth has garnered some attention. Silicon Prairie News, an online news site based in Omaha, Neb., that covers tech startups in the Midwest, gave 9th & Elm a write-up last week. And Dwolla, the Des Moines-based service angling to become the alternative to Paypal with lower transaction fees, picked 9th & Elm as one of its featured e-commerce sites for the beta rollout of its new credit initiative. Dwolla Credit picked 40 retailers to

feature on its “storefront,” and people who choose to pay through Dwolla will get an instant line of credit to be used at those companies. Clay Bethune said 9th & Elm started with two dedicated employees four months ago, and already it has had to hire three more people. “We feel like we’re just getting started to be honest with you,” he said.

Coming to town

Two national companies have opened branches in Columbia, another indicator that the city’s growing population and economy is attracting national and international firms. Regus, the world’s largest operator of serviced office space, opened an office center in October. The company’s 13,000-square-foot set of offices and conference rooms is in the second floor of The Shoppes at Stadium, 303 N. Stadium Boulevard, said Ben Muzzey, the Columbia office’s general manager. Regus manages office space in cities around the country, and often its clients are smaller companies with a few employees. Using the service, they can get services like a receptionist and enter into shorter-term leases while

their company grows. Typically, Regus has focused on larger metro areas. In Missouri, it already operates eight business centers in Kansas City and five in St. Louis, Muzzey said. Columbia is now the third Missouri city with a Regus office center. The other company to recently open a branch office here is Graybar Electric. The St. Louis-based company is a distributor of electrical and communications equipment and has branches across the world. It opened its Columbia office in September because of “economic development in the Columbia and Boone County area,” said Dan Schaefer, who oversees the Columbia branch as well as the company’s Jefferson City facility. The company is leasing the building at 1805 Burlington Street from Beau Aero Martin, whose family owns communications infrastructure developer GlenMartin. “Any city that has a major university sees a lot of construction activity and renovation activity going on, and that’s certainly a factor,” Schaefer said.

on the radar

There have been rumors floating around town — some in the business community, some in city hall — that the Rader family could be selling 225 S. Ninth St., the building that houses the original Shakespeare’s Pizza. Have no fear, Shakespeare’s fans — Rader patriarch Jack Rader wants to put those to rest: he’s not selling it. “That’s the crown jewel of our real estate,” Rader said. Last month, it came to light the Raders were in negotiations with a New York student housing developer to sell the site of their bar, Bengal’s Bar and Grill, at 227 S. 6th Street. A 24-story apartment building could occupy that piece of ground. But the Shakespeare’s building a few blocks to the east “is not and never has been” on the table for a sale. It’s one of the most valuable corners in Columbia, Rader said. “That one’s for the family.” As for what bar the family plans to buy out if Bengal’s moves, Rader said stay tuned. He’ll let Street Talk know after the real estate deal is final. Jacob Barker is the Tribune’s business reporter. Reach him at 573-815-1722 or

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