BOULDER – Nearly 20 years ago, Jody and Chuck Hunker pooled their
experience and talent to bring Applause, a distinctive retailer of women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, to the Pearl Street Mall.
Jody had been in the retail business, and Chuck’s background was in accounting. When the couple combined their skills to launch Applause, it led to success.
In November, Applause will open a third location at FlatIron Crossing, Jody Hunker said. The new store, Baby Applause, will feature a variety of infant and newborn merchandise, including clothes, shoes, accessories, mobiles, bedding and furniture.
“I think it will make our name more seen and heard,´ said Jennifer Gray, who manages the Applause store in Cherry Creek North. With the new location at FlatIron, Gray said Applause will be able to attract customers from the Broomfield area who don’t necessarily come to Boulder to shop.
If Baby Applause is successful, Hunker said she plans to open even more Baby Applause locations in the future.
Out of all the items at Applause, the cashmere, wool and cotton sweaters from New York and Los Angeles, are the most popular, Hunker said.
For the shoppers looking for clothing that defies the norm, Applause sells funky, beaded items that are part of the Jane Doe collection. Other clothing lines include Betsy Johnson of New York, Equestrian of Santa Barbara, Victoria Kids and Zutano Baby.
The store also carries handmade quilts from India, mobiles, Halloween costumes and “dress up” clothes for girls. Other unique items include artwork by Liz Anderson, stuffed animal backpacks for kids and chenille armchairs for girls.
Applause was the first store in Boulder to sell Beanie Babies. At first, they didn’t sell well. “I couldn’t give them away,” Hunker said. “It took me two months to sell a big basket of them.” But then, as the Beanie Baby craze developed, sales increased. Last year, Applause made $100,000 in Beanie Baby sales alone, Hunker said.
Natalie Kurylko of Boulder, who works on the Pearl Street Mall, said she visits Applause often. “Applause has the best selection of unique kids’ gifts, especially really cute children’s apparel and great gift items for adults, too,” she said.
Kurylko said the store is fun and eclectic. “There are items you don’t see everywhere else. That’s what I like about it.”
Both Applause stores share about half the same merchandise, Hunker said. She didn’t want the second store to be a “cookie-cutter” version of the first.
The Hunkers spend the majority of their time at the Boulder store, which opened in 1981. It’s bigger than the Cherry Creek North store at 2827 E. Third Ave., which made its debut in 1990.
At the Boulder store, almost half the clientele consists of tourists and students, whereas the clientele at the Cherry Creek North store is primarily local, Hunker said.
“We have kind of a neighborhood feel,” Gray said. “A lot of mothers come in two to three times a week.” The Cherry Creek North store is even equipped with a playhouse. “The little kids go crazy,” Gray said.
The Cherry Creek North store is being renovated. “The store is cozier now,” she said. “It has a smaller feel.”
Applause initially sold only women’s accessories and gifts, but when Hunker had children of her own, she decided to expand the merchandise.
Hunker, who has two daughters, considers herself a mother of even more children with the two stores. “They have personalities of their own and staffs of their own,” she said. “It’s not like having two more children, it’s like having 25 more because each staff person is like having another child.”
Applause’s customers are artistic, unique, creative and nurturing people who know who they are, Hunker said. While the majority of the store’s customers are women, men come in for gifts for their wives and children.
Prior to owning Applause, Hunker worked at La Boca, a retail store in Denver. Chuck was an in-store accountant at Peaches Records & Tapes.
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