Talloni, A Shoe Salon, will celebrate its 10th anniversary in Biltmore Park Town Square this October.
“I wanted to create a fun place where women could come in and just simile,” said owner Connie Herbst. A Biltmore Park resident, she also wanted to be located close to home.
In 2006, the area was a lot quieter than it is now. Besides Biltmore Farms, her only neighbors were the Reuter YMCA, Blossoms, Sensibilities Day Spa, and Natural Impressions Hair Salon. Ten years later, there are over 100 stores and businesses in the Park.
To celebrate 10 years of making women happy, Talloni will host an anniversary party on Thursday, Oct. 6, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the store, now located at 43 Town Square Boulevard, next to the Hilton.
Herbst is putting a new spin on the ‘trunk sale’ and will hold a ‘truck sale.’ Popular handbag designer and manufacturer Hobo is sending a truck carrying almost its entire product line. The truck will be parked in front of the store, and visitors can go in to browse and buy. Snacks and giveaways will also be part of the event.
Herbst is quick to say how “blessed” she is that the store continues to do well. Talloni has also been a vehicle for meeting what she describes as “phenomenal clients,” mostly local women she might not have met another way. Over her ten years in business, Herbst has also built strong relationship with her vendors. High-end shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, for example, now works with Talloni on custom-designs, offered only in the store.
One key to her success, she says, is finding the right people for her team. Store manager Anna Frank, just 25 years old, is in her fourth year at Talloni. Herbst is teaching her how to run the store, and Frank goes with her on buying trips to New York and Las Vegas.
Another secret to success may be starting small. Talloni initially offered just 6 or 8 shoe lines. Over 10 years she gradually grew to include products from 52 different vendors, carrying 18 shoe lines, 4 handbag lines, and a wide range of jewelry and accessories. Known for having items that may not be found elsewhere, Herbst looks for the unusual. One example is new vendor Uno de 50 from Spain. The company creates 50 pieces for international sale and then retires the line. She also carries local designers.
Starting a high-end ladies footwear retail store 10 years ago meant Talloni had to weather some difficult years when local shoppers cut back their spending. Herbst says Talloni made it through those trying years, “because shoes are just fun.” The change she saw was that customers might buy one pair of shoes instead of two or three. During that time, Herbst did not cut back on product, but she did grow things gradually, “tiptoeing into jewelry and accessories and putting money into increasing inventory.”
Herbst said in order to grow and thrive, she adapted her product line to the local clientele. That meant offering a range of heel heights and adding some ‘comfort lines,’ popular among Asheville shoppers. She also added some moderately-priced pieces to the collection of high-end designer shoes and accessories.
In 2014 Talloni outgrew its original space in Town Square and relocated to its current store by the Hilton. The new store location is substantially larger and is also more visible to Hilton traffic.
While Talloni provides a place for women to have fun being fashionable, Herbst has also supported the community where she lives and works. Through her ten years at Talloni, she has actively worked with HelpMate domestic violence agency, MANNA FoodBank, Meals on Wheels, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and others.
By Mary Koppenheffer