Rising retail figures have valley retailers optimistic

CLOVIS, California

A locally-owned boutique hopes to match the trend. Bliss Boutique in Clovis opened a year ago during troubling times, also a time when leases were cheaper. But 20-year old Melissa Gotelli figured the LA Idol jeans and cool hats would be a big hit once the economy improved. Gotelli said, "Business is going great. The holidays are coming up and I'm really excited. A lot of customers start shopping this month."

Gotelli, her brother Steve and her mom are all partners in the business.

Melissa is a junior at Fresno State studying fashion merchandising with a minor in business. She said, "Definitely the classes and courses I take at Fresno State are definitely helping in what I do here and my knowledge on running the business better."

Rich Mostert of the Central Valley Business Incubator and Small Business Development Center called the local outlook optimistic. Mostert said, "I think we have the makings of a much better year only because we do see some small indicators of the change in the economy."

Mostert said he sees similarities among many successful businesses. "Most of our retail community are looking for ways to make either high-end or specialty products more accessible to the everyday purchaser or they're expanding their product lines to include that."

The boutique business has gone so well Gotelli and her brother are opening a new store at Sierra Vista mall in Clovis on Monday. Melissa explained, "Since we did so well with our shoe section I figured Sierra Vista needed a trendy shoe boutique to go in there."

Gotelli keeps awfully busy. She's also a member of the 49er Gold Rush who sells shoes and clothes to some of her fellow members on the squad.

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