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Monday, October 3, 2011

A Fond Farewell To Tyler House

So this past week one of my closest retail friends decided to call it quits and close her store. I have known Jennifer Huggard, owner of Tyler House, for about as long as I have been in business. I realize it simply wasn’t feasible for her to call all her friends and let them know, but it was a shock to read it in the mail. I was opening up my mail last Sunday after a very long ride home from Charlotte after Charlotte Fashion Week. I was so tired, and concerned that I might doze off, I made Jeannie talk business with me the whole way home. She really wanted to zone out herself and send me an email about things up and coming, and I knew the comment of how is your book coming along would be said, but for me I needed to stay awake. More coffee was really not the answer, but pushing conversation with Jeannie was. I finally get back to Raleigh and pull in around 2pm, and gather my mail out of the mailbox. I see a letter from Tyler House and realize it wasn't a bill.

“Dear Friends,
     Over the past seventeen years I have had the privilege of owning Tyler House, the store where I worked while in school and first began to learn from Mr. Tyler the skills of being a good merchant. As I face the end of my lease, I have decided it is time to begin a new chapter in my life......”

Jennifer goes on to say she will be starting a sale and will begin to reduce prices to prepare to close her doors. I don't gasp or grab my chest often, but being tired, I did both and started to tear. I quickly call Jennifer to ask if she and John (her husband) are ok. She replies yes, but her aunt was not. I remembered Jennifer mentioning that her aunt was quite ill, and that they were only three years apart in age. Her aunt, who really was like a sister had been there for her own sister, Jennifer’s mother, when she was ill so many years before.

Jennifer wanted that same time with her aunt and plans to travel with her retired husband. No, it wasn't that the business wasn't doing well, it was that Jennifer wanted to trade her very hectic life to one filled with travel and family. I repeated many times how happy I was for her and glad that she had made such a wonderful choice. Most of us spend our lives working day in and day out not taking enough time to evaluate what is most important to us. I think Jennifer has it right!

For me I sat down to calculate the many losses it meant to me, as Jennifer has not only been a friend but a true supportive business confidant over the years. This is my top ten list of what I will miss most about Tyler House.
  1. The greeting I receive from Ann Suber every time I walk in.
  2. That Jennifer is always, and I mean always, very accommodating and will never let a client walk out unhappy.
  3. Jennifer takes back most everything even after a month or longer. This is not Nordstrom, it is a boutique mind you!
  4. Jennifer will always try and get a garment if requested by me for a client, even if she knows chances are slim.
  5. The store is always clean and well dressed!
  6. I will especially miss Tot's very southern twang and conversation
  7. Jennifer and I know one another so well we almost have a secret code when something happens in the store that makes up both want to bust out and laugh
  8. Jennifer knows so much about fit and body type and the merchandise she carries that I can always pick her brain.
  9. The way Ann Suber has no problem asking a client of mine a random question that usually catches me off guard.
  10. The back room and office has always been one of my favorite places to hang out with Jennifer and Claire, her assistant, because we can chit chat about retail locally.
In finishing this list, I realize what I will miss most about the store closing is that for me I am not sure I can fill the void of what the store carried for my clients. Jennifer has done a great job with private label. For the many people that thought she bought for the conservative client, I say not. I could always find that piece that would bring on the wow factor. So, if there are any local merchants out there, I hope you have the opportunity to hop on some of the vendors that Jennifer had relationships with and grab them quick.

I do expect to keep in touch with Jennifer and catch a lunch or dinner, but it won't be the same. Tyler House is like my favorite high heels and robe all wrapped up into one. Be sure and drop by and catch some of the great savings before she closes her doors. I sure hope that Mr. Tyler is smiling down on Jennifer because she has been gem to so many and we will long remember her when wearing our Tyler House duds!

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