Sorry, mommies-to-be: You’ll have to wait until the bun is out of the oven to shop Hot Mama. The Edina-based chain is getting out of the maternity apparel business.
Maternity has always been a smaller part of the business in comparison to women’s contemporary fashion. But in the past five years, maternity dropped from 20 to 10 percent of company sales, says Hot Mama CFO/Chairman Mike Tamte. Meanwhile, non-maternity grew an impressive 40 percent annually during that same period. When Hot Mama quietly removed maternity from some stores last summer, sales actually surged, Tamte says. ”We were able to add faster-moving non-maternity apparel.”
Spring maternity is in stores now, but no orders were placed for fall. Hot Mama is consolidating what remains of maternity apparel – in the Twin Cities, you’ll still find a good assortment at the Edina, Maple Grove, St. Paul and Roseville locations as well as online.
Despite the store name, this decision is a return to Hot Mama’s roots, Tamte points out. When his wife Megan Tamte opened the first store in Edina six years ago, there was no maternity section (that confused me at first, I recall). “Only when we saw a lot of bellies walk through the door did we decide to bring in contemporary maternity lines,” Tamte says.
So what happened to all those bellies? I’m already hearing the desperate cries of pregnant women who feel like they have no boutiques to shop. Strikes me as being a bit like retail’s petite problem: Women complain about a lack of options, but tend not to buy what’s available. Hot Mama has noticed many pregnant women wearing non-maternity apparel as long as possible.
“There are very few maternity boutiques in the Twin Cities, and the nation, for that matter,” Tamte acknowledged. “We debated whether to keep maternity in one or two stores in each city, but decided that would be too confusing to the customer. There is plenty of maternity business for an independent maternity boutique, though.”
There’s your invitation, aspiring store owners. Meanwhile, Hot Mama will focus on what follows those nine short months of fashion challenges: Motherhood. Says Tamte, “The vast majority of our customers understand Hot Mama as a contemporary clothing store for moms who want to look and feel hot.”
Hot Mama currently has 19 stores in seven states with three under construction and plans for another 18 in the next two years.