• clerveralice.com
  • A dress by Egerie at Clever Alice, $198

This Thursday, women’s boutique Clever Alice is marking 15 years in the business. That would be an impressive record for any small store, but is especially notable in this turbulent economy, which has hit independent boutique owners hard.

Owner Tamara Chaponot credits her success to a core customer base—one so loyal it’s followed her through three moves, from the store’s original location in Lincoln Park, to a new location in River North, and to its current home on Damen in Bucktown. Chaponot has known many of her customers since they were in their single-and-dating 20s, following them through marriages, families, and professional success. In fact, personal service is an essential part of her successful strategy: “Even if they can’t get to me, I’ll go to their office, go to their home.”