OMG! SHOOZIES!

I know what you’re thinking.  The title is referring to this lolcat picture.  Actually, no.  I finally got the interview I have wanted since Rhythm & Roots weekend.  That weekend, as my girlfriend and I were wandering in and out of all of the stores open for business, contributing to the glow, and overall R&RR weekend experience, we came across one I hadn’t ever been in before.  Shoozies.  It’s a pretty classy place compared to some of the stores that have been around a while, but I think it’s a breath of fresh air.  I was lucky enough to speak with the owner of Shoozies during the hustle and bustle of Rhythm & Roots.  She had opened up the first night of the R&RR weekend, so it’s fair to say that this location of her business is in its infancy.  I immediately wanted to include a write-up on her and her store here on my blog, for your guys to read.  And after weeks of waiting, and having scheduling conflicts, I was able to sit down with the owner this morning.  She had a lot to say, and I enjoyed every minute of the interview.  Plus I am very proud of the fact that I was the first person to interview the owner of this store.  I feel a little honored!

Del Dotson:  Okay so, first off can you tell me your name and your title with the business?

Peggy Wilson:  My name is Peggy Wilson, and I’m the owner.

DD:  Okay.  What made you choose to open a business on State Street, over any other location you could have chosen?

PW:  Well, I decided about 5 years ago, this building was available, and I decided to buy the building.  Because in Kingsport, I’ve always leased all of my.. I’ve always had a lease.  I’ve never really owned my own building.  So I decided I would just buy this building and rent out a retail space to someone and build a loft.  And maybe, just a slim chance of maybe that I would put my own business in there later.  Then I had trouble leasing the building.  It was not in great shape and so after a couple of people leased it a year and moved out, I decided to remodel and get it looking really good.  And see what was actually here.

DD:  So this isn’t your first business?

PW:  No.  I have a business in Kingsport, it’s called Shoozies, also.  It’s the same business.

DD:  And where is that located?

PW:  It’s in the Fort Henry Mall.  Well, “Fort Henry Mall” is now “Kingsport Town Center”, they’ve renamed it.  But it’s been Fort Henry Mall forever.  And I moved in there in ’94.  1994, and.. no, ’84.  1984!

DD: Wow.  That’s a long time.

PW:  Yes, it is.  And I’ve gone through a lot of landlords.

DD: Right.

PW:  ..and a lot of ups and downs.  So, right now the mall is in kind of a “down-mode”, they’re trying to get some of the major stores leased and it’s just not happening.  I decided that, since my lease is up soon, and they’ve told me I can lease month-to-month, or whatever I want to do.  And I think that’s what I’m going to do down there.  But I decided that I might try Shoozies up here and see how it goes.

DD:  Yeah.  And just to kind of have a place to call your own?

PW:  Yes.  And, you know, have a place in case I don’t renew my lease, or don’t want to stay any longer.  Or can’t stay any longer.

DD:  Well that’s wonderful, a really good idea.

PW: Yeah.

DD:  I remember when we talked before, that you said you really busted butt to get [the store] open by Rhythm & Roots.

PW:  Yeah, we did!  It just seems like it’s taken forever. Everything takes longer than you expect, but..

DD:  I know that [all too well!].

PW:  And so we had different target dates to be open, I missed them.  So I decided that I’m going to be open by Rhythm & Roots, some way, some how. And we worked, and my husband has a job in Bristol and he works hard.  We worked down here [at the store] until midnight all week, and my computer guy was going on vacation.  He came down, and got my computer going at 6:45 on Friday night and we opened the doors at 7:00.

DD:  Right, hahaha.

PW:  It really was worth it, because I haven’t done any advertising yet and just about every one, maybe about 75% of the people who come through my door said they saw me and knew about me from Rhythm & Roots.  It’s made a big difference.

DD:  Yes, it’s a really good way to spread word-of-mouth.

PW:  Yes.

DD:  Okay, my next question is what do you think Shoozies brings to Downtown Bristol that wasn’t already here?  You’ve already kind of touched on it a little bit.

PW:  I think it’s a.. I think it’s wonderful for Downtown Bristol.  I hope that I am successful for many reasons but one is that if I’m successful that it will draw more stores similar to this to Downtown.  I don’t want another shoe store, but clothing stores, or specialty stores.  Our mall has not kept up with the time..

DD:  No, not at all.

PW:  You know!  And if you don’t keep up, if you’re not progressive, you’re going to get left behind.  It just takes Downtown a while to get going.  We’ve had, since I’ve owned the building 5 years ago, we’ve had a step forward, two steps back.  You know, two steps forward, one step back.  But we are doing better.  So I know my store will attract other stores if I’m successful.

DD:  Alright.  Well that’s wonderful, I really like that idea (mentality).  How do you think Shoozies fits in with, like, State Streets’ personality?  With the whole, kind of, face it has down here?

PW:  Well, you know I think State Street is many faces.  During Rhythm & Roots, wearing boots that I didn’t even know owned a pair of boots!  So it kind of turned into being a different State Street during Rhythm & Roots.  It’s just got a lot of everything and I think every store down here is kind of unique in their own way.  And they could have gone to the Mall.  Like some of these stores that have been here forever, when the Mall was really going well, they could have said: “Downtown’s dead, I’m moving to the Mall.”  But they want Downtown to succeed, they like Downtown.  It’s a great place!  I love it here!  It’s pleasant, and it’s really different from the Mall.

DD:  Yeah it is.

PW:  ..and it’s nice.  I think the character of State Street is a mixture of personalities that have businesses down here.  Everybody that’s down here has taken a risk.

DD:  Absolutely.  And last week, I did an article on Inari Wines.  I asked them the same question.  And Aulikki said that State Street is really moving towards, you know it’s getting all these specialty shops.  And she mentioned you [Shoozies], she said you know, there’s that shoe store and it has really nice items in there, and we have wine here, and an art shop, err.. gallery right next door [to Shoozies].  So you know, it’s moving towards being really elegant.  In a way.

PW:  Yeah, it is.  But nothing against the stores that aren’t.  Because they’ve stayed here, and they’ve endured.

DD:  Yeah.

PW:  Do you know what I mean?

DD:  Yeah, and they bring a little bit of the charm too.

PW:  Yes they do!  Yeah you’re right, charm, that’s a good word!  But I think to make it profitable Downtown, you’ve got to have stores like mine.  We’ll see what happens, I’m just hoping I can stay.  I want to.  But if I can’t pay my bills, I can’t hire employees, I can’t sell enough to do that, then I can’t stay.  But I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I could make it.

DD:  Right.  Is there anything we can look forward to from the store in the near future?

PW:  I’m going to get my Birkenstocks any day.  they’re supposed to have been shipped.  I’m hoping today.  Birkenstocks and Uggs, those are my 2 biggest sellers in Kingsport.  I’m getting both of those, I finally got my approval on the Uggs, it took me forever.  It took me months to get approval.  But I finally got approved!  And Uggs are so picky that’s why they’re in such high demand.

DD:  One more question!  Is there anything else you’d like to share, that I didn’t really already ask about?

PW:  Hmmm.  I don’t think so.. I’m still, even though I’ve been in business for 25 years, I’m still open to any suggestions.  So I am getting.. it’s a different business in Bristol, I already know that.  I’m looking for ideas of things to carry that the customers want, that I can sell.  I don’t know of anything, except that I am..

DD:  Open to suggestions.

PW:  Yes I am.

DD:  That’s cool.  Okay, that’s all I have.

PW:  Well thank you so much.  Thank you for bearing with me and coming back so many times.

DD:  You’re welcome, and thank you for your time.

She’s right.  I like the mentality behind her opening a classy joint on State Street.  I see the way things are moving down there, and with more stores like Mrs. Wilson’s Shoozies, there is more room for success of the whole area.  I believe that her success will really be a success for everyone living in/near Downtown Bristol.  With more businesses like hers, there will be more things to do Downtown.  There will be less abandoned buildings, more foot traffic, which would lead to more public events.  All of which to me, is one huge cycle that would pull our little neck of the woods out of the recession real quick.  Right now her store is different than what we are used to on State Street.  But different doesn’t mean bad.  Change is usually a good thing, and I hope her business is successful.  I think Shoozies is doing pretty well for having no advertising whatsoever.  I think that if Mrs. Wilson markets it right to her target audience, the sky will be the limit!

Overall, the store is not my style.  I am, however a male.  I know plenty of women, though, that love shopping for shoes and bags and accessories and I think Shoozies would be the perfect place to shop for your wife or girlfriend.  I secretly hope they start selling gift cards soon.  That being said, I think the way it’s set up, it wouldn’t be uncomfortable for men to go in and look around, like most other women’s stores are.  That’s a hard thing to do.  Guys know what I am talking about; how often are you left standing up against a wall holding bags and feeling awkward, waiting on your girlfriend?  Shoozies is classy, but comfortable, (and guys, Peggy was gracious enough to put a lot of comfy places to sit around the store).  And Mrs. Wilson is one of the nicest people you will meet.  Every time I have gone in, she (and her staff) have been nothing but polite and kind.  I haven’t had a bad experience with her or her store at all.  I definitely think it’s worth checking out if you’re local, or just stopping by Bristol for the weekend.

Good Luck, Mrs. Wilson!

Shoozies

527 State Street, Bristol VA, 24201

(276) 644-3275

Shoozies@ShooziesDowntown.com

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2 Responses to “OMG! SHOOZIES!”

  1. Rich Ewald Says:

    Great store, and the owner is awesome – really knows her stuff.

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