Building Relationships in Style
Babe’s Shoes and Apparel
BY JON SALM
For twenty-five years, Babe’s Shoes and Apparel has outfitted the women of Polk County from head to toe with stylish apparel, shoes and accessories. Babe’s opened in 1988, which makes 2013 the twenty-fifth anniversary for the
full-service boutique. Babe’s is located in the Southgate Shopping Center on South Florida Avenue.
Faye Doppelheuer is both the store’s founder and its namesake. “My family was a ‘yours, mine, and ours’ and I was the youngest of thirteen children,” she explained. Doppelheuer named the store, Babe’s, after a childhood nickname given to her by her mother.
“The smile on her face the day I told her the name of the store was going to be ‘Babe’s’ confirmed that I had made a good choice,” she said.
Babe’s has moved three times to different locations along South Florida Avenue and has been at their current Southgate location for fifteen years. Despite the changing times and changing locations, Babe’s has evolved alongside its customers. When Babe’s opened in 1988 it was primarily a shoe salon, but it has since expanded to include apparel, jewelry, and accessories. “I learned early in my career to adjust to the customer’s needs and wants,” Doppelheuer said. “We started as a designer shoe salon, offering designer shoes and handbags; but are now a full service boutique.
Babe’s carries a variety of top apparel brands including Tribal, Joyous and Free, Erin London, and Krista Lee. Jewelry brands include John Medeiros, Firefly, Ayala Bar, and Jill Beads; and shoes’ brands include Van Eli, Onex, Alegria, Switch Flops, and LaPlume. According to Doppelheuer, Brighton is the store’s most popular brand and offers a bit of everything.
“Brighton is a collection of jewelry, handbags, shoes and accessories,” she said. “We have carried the line for almost 18 years now. The Brighton design team continues to update the line, so it’s always evolving. We just introduced My Flat In London, which is also distributed by Brighton.”
To stay on top of the latest fashion trends, Doppelheuer travels to gift, shoe and apparel shows across the country in order to find the latest merchandise and to network with other small business owners. This brings the best and most fashionable products back to her customers in Polk County. Doppelheuer’s focus on the customer experience has kept Babe’s running strong for the past quarter century.
“We believe in building a relationship with our customers,” Doppelheuer said. “We engage our customers. We greet them when they enter our store. We know their names, likes, sizes, what they bought last visit, the brands they like. We send our customers hand written thank you notes. And we thank them for their business when they leave our store.”
When customer Janet Wooten moved to Lakeland from North Carolina in 1990, she began shopping at Babe’s. She has continued to visit Babe’s ever since.
“I’ve been a customer for over 20 years,” Wooten said. “Babe’s has good quality, good prices, and great personal service.”
According to Doppelheuer, Babe’s has some of the most loyal customers in Polk County who keep her “working, eating and sleeping Babe’s.” Doppelheuer and her staff of seven stay busy assisting customers, displaying new merchandise, and keeping the store in top shape.
Even though Babe’s has had a successful twenty-five years, Doppelheuer is looking forward to twenty-five more.
“I really love what I do,” she said. “Babe’s is not a hobby for me. It is my passion.”