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Business & Real Estate

Fire helps spark family business: Women’s clothing boutique Alys Grace opens in Los Altos


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier

More than 200 customers visited Alys Grace during the first three hours of the store’s grand opening last week. The downtown Los Altos boutique is the third Alys Grace location for owners Phil and Tiger Bachler.

To some degree, an electrical fire sparked the success of Alys Grace, a women’s fashion boutique that last week opened its third location, this one in downtown Los Altos.

Phil and Tiger Bachler said the 2008 fire that occurred six months after they opened their first boutique, Calla, in Menlo Park, led them to brainstorm ways to expand the business’ reach.

“When we bought Calla, our intent was not to rebrand, because it had such a loyal following,” said Tiger, who worked as a merchandiser for The Gap Inc. for more than a decade. “But when the fire happened, we thought, ‘You know, what we’re going to do is use this (situation) as an opportunity to rebrand.’”

The couple renamed the store Alys Grace – an ode to Phil’s late mother, Alys, and their daughter, Isabella Grace – and reopened 18 months later. The Bachlers have not only retained the loyal following of former Calla customers, they said, but also gained a plethora of new ones.

“I think we did such a good job in that process,” said Tiger, who started her career at Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s in New York. “Really, the brand is just so true to who we are.”

The Bachlers opened a second location in Burlingame soon after and debuted in Los Altos Thursday, welcomed by more than 200 customers in the first three hours of operation.

The store is located at 208 Main St., former home to another women’s clothing store – Gemma Boutique.

Tiger said Alys Grace strives for the personal touch. The Bachlers aim to provide a relaxed, small-business atmosphere where customers feel at ease.

“We want to be considered everyone’s neighborhood store,” she said. “We like being that small business to the local community.”

“The nice thing about our business is that it’s all community-oriented,” Phil added. “Wherever we go, we look to do things like support our business community and charities in the area.”

Opening a shop in Los Altos seemed a natural fit, Tiger said. She called the opportunity a “serendipitous” one – noting that it was the couple’s friendship with the owners of Gemma that ultimately led them to take over the retail site.

“We obviously had to think long and hard about opening a third store, but we felt this was such a good opportunity that we couldn’t turn it down,” said Tiger, whose stores carry a total of 60-65 designer clothing lines. “We really feel we know how to cultivate the feeling of a neighborhood store.”

As for first impressions, Tiger said the Los Altos community hasn’t been shy about rolling out the welcome mat.

“We have just felt so welcomed by our community here,” she said, noting that several downtown business owners helped promote the boutique’s opening. “It’s just really, really exciting.”

For more information, visit www.alysgrace.com.

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