Sunday’s Snowflakes, a women’s fashion boutique in Mattick’s Farm, will close on December 1
Wendy Graham has tried to retire before, but this time she really means it.
Graham, who has been a force in the retail industry in Greater Victoria, will be shutting down women’s fashion boutique Snowflakes on Sunday December 1 for good, 40 years after opening the first fashion destination.
“I’m not a young woman anymore, although I feel young,” said Graham, 77, who noted that the COVID pandemic dragged on and the recent retirement of a key staff member, it was a good time to close the store. “That kind of sealed the deal.”
Graham tried the retirement concert 10 years ago when she closed the Sunday Snowflakes department store at the corner of Douglas and Broughton streets in the city center. At this point, the plan was to maintain a small shop at Mattick’s Farm and take extra time to travel and relax.
However, she also opened and eventually closed two other women’s clothing stores – Curves Lingerie and Something More.
This time around, there will be no return to the retail landscape.
Graham said she decided to close rather than sell the store.
“I wanted Sunday’s Snowflakes to be over. It was 40 years of my life, which is really important to me and I didn’t want it to end up becoming something it wasn’t, ”she said.
While she’s excited to “be lazy for a few months” and then hopefully travel again, Graham admits it hasn’t been an easy decision.
“I made my peace with it now, but it took a while,” she said. “I will miss people. I have wonderful clients who have done business with me for 40 years.
During this time, she has built friendships and lasting relationships across the country and says she will miss the opportunity to meet them.
She said she won’t miss some of the challenges of day-to-day living as a retailer, like shipments that don’t arrive or unhappy customers, but even then Graham suggests it’s all part of a small business.
“It’s still great. I love what I do and have been fortunate enough to spend 40 years doing something that I feel absolutely lucky to do, ”she said.
Graham said working in the retail landscape for the past four decades has been quite a journey, having gone through several recessions, a global economic collapse, the age of big box stores, retailing in line and a pandemic.
But she said the only constant has been a commitment to the customer.
“The people are different, the products are different and there has been so much to adapt to,” she said. “The secret [to success] was the products and my staff. We treat every customer who comes as if they are important. We talk to everyone, we take care of them, we take care of them.
Looking back on his career, Graham said one of his best decisions was to close his downtown store and focus on the neighborhood boutique in Cordova Bay.
Back then it was all about reducing stress and freeing up her time, but she thinks it was prescient as well and avoided some of the issues that would develop in the core – everything, of the large number of people. high-rise buildings to people. living on the streets and what looks like a decreasing number of small local shops.
“I think about it and it looks like it wasn’t a bad plan. I am truly distressed by our downtown area, ”she said. “I come down once a month to get my hair done and I go for a walk and it’s so disheartening, it just makes me sad.”
She is encouraged to see more vibrant neighborhood collections of retail, service, restaurant and other businesses establish and grow, such as Mattick’s Farm and Cook Street Village.
“They are really great,” she said, noting that the small retailers in these “corners” get to know their customers and meet their needs. “It’s what small businesses can do, and what big ones can’t or choose not to do – you’re just another sales slip over the counter. We all like to be treated and taken care of, and as a retailer if you do that the customer is yours.
Graham, who has taken the time to give back throughout his career by serving on volunteer boards and hosting charity fashion shows, intends to keep this going until his last hour. behind the desk.
As of today, the proceeds from the sale of clothing at the boutique will be donated to the Red Cross to help the victims.
“That’s what I think I should do because we all have to help develop when people are in trouble,” she said. “As a member of my community, I feel it is my responsibility.