Surely this has happened to you, too. You discover an amazing store during a trip to Dallas or San Francisco or Chicago, buy everything that will fit in a carry-on, and then walk away with your giant shopping bags, turning back for one last meaningful look as "I Will Always Love You" plays inside your head.
That's where House Account comes in. This new app is the brainchild of Laura Vinroot Poole, herself a boutique owner in North Carolina, and it mixes the chic visuals of Instagram with an easy way to follow your favorite shops from near and far and snag the latest under-the-radar awesomeness they have in store. For Poole, it was a natural extention for boutiques, which are increasingly interacting with their customers by text and social media.
In Houston, currently 26 boutiques, including French Cuff, Saint Cloud, Boxwood Interiors, and our local Mecox Gardens use the app to post new or timely goodies, plus on-sale styles that customers won't want to miss. Like Instagram, users that follow each store can like the post, or (unlike Instagram) they can message the store through the app to set up a purchase or—and I know this is crazy—hit another button to place an actual phone call to get details ASAP.
You can make House Account a fun way to do some research on how to best spend your tax refund without fighting crowds for a parking space, or let it inspire you to stop in your favorite stores and see what else is on the shelves.
But in addition to seeing what's new at local shops, I like the ability to follow stores from across the country. Fall in love with Boston's Patch NYC during grad school? Tired of taking road trips just to visit By George in Austin? Want to know in real time what the most fashion-forward stores in Los Angeles are in love with? The app makes it easy to keep up with over 400 great stores wherever they are without having to search out their (often outdated) e-commerce sites.
Bonus: If you love, say, Lizzie Fortunato necklaces but Houston stores are sold out, you can search by product or brand name to find shops across the country that have your fave in stock.
The one downside, aside from a frightening amount of retail temptation, is that the app is currently only available for iPhone and iPad users.