In My Opinion – Suzanne Bells Fashions Closing
It is with a huge amount of emotion I write what is my last “In My Opinion” as we have known it. Retiring seems such an odd word for me to even say. I never thought about it and expected I would stay here for much longer. Ha…well I should have known that the road would divert for me.
I suppose I really saw this coming in the last few years. The truth is that so many circumstances converged to bring me to this point. It is no surprise that retail as we have known it has changed, really changed in the 30 years since I have been in business. I love to tell the story of Christmas pasts when we would spend months getting ready to decorate the store and fill it with liquid gold and silver lame pants and tops and more. It was so sparkly and fun. All of us went to Christmas parties and dressed up and had huge celebrations. I guess we even had a” few” and drove home. Let me bring you to this last “Holiday Season” where we hardly put up decorations and our customers were buying big shirts to stay cool while cooking the turkey.
I know this will not feel great for many of you but I know that the time is right. Aside from the fact I can feel 30 years on my feet in my knees, in this business leases and contracts are usually fairly long and my lease is up. I have been fortunate to have a great landlord and been here in this location for 20 years. Access is tougher, Vancouver city taxes are so high and a move was out of the question. Nothing a young entrepreneur and a few million wouldn’t fix.
I have always loved being in this business, most probably because I have had customers who have been so interesting and loyal. I have been very grateful for you. Now that I am closing let me have my last words to you. Thank you for being there when I first started and took what was a huge risk to follow my dream. Thank you for coming in year after year and reminding me that what I did was important to you. Thank you for allowing me to get to know you, and thank you for your stories that always made me laugh and cry. Thank you for teaching me that I should never give up my fight for the right to live my life as a woman of size with dignity. That in itself my friends has given me the drive to stand proud and speak on your behalf (self appointed of course). Thank you for allowing me to come to work everyday with joy, how often can one say that about work? Thank you for teaching me so much, more that I can even express.
I have a good friend who always said to me that this business of fashion was always a cover story. A reason to connect and share and help each other. I for one have taken a great deal from you, I have learned to really listen and therefore really learn. You have probably not heard the last of me. Although I have not got solid plans I am bursting with projects left undone.
This last 30 years would never have happened without some very important people. My business partner Stephanie who has an amazing ability as a buyer, a very smart business person and my very best friend. Inez who you all know as the “model”, has been here for 11 years and likes you all as much as I do. Jane Ham who was with me from the first days and always promised to stay until her husband retired ( now they are globetrotting) and Jody who we miss but is now a mom and calls us to make sure we are doing our jobs up to standard.
As I put labels on this “mail out” I see so many names I have not seen in years. I would love to see you, just to say hi or for you to get a great bargain. We will be here until we sell everything but I am not sure how long that will take. I am told it can go quite fast…
In the words of Maya Angelou “Wouldn’t take nothing for my journey now!!!”
Sure gonna miss you, but want to wish you all the luck in the world. I envy your retirement, as I too have lots of projects, but still hav 15 years of work ahead of me. 🙁
I am so sorry, I was hoping to come to do some shopping and see you. Your store has been one of the only great plus-size stores for women in Vancouver.
Wishing you all the very best on your retirement and this stage of your life,