Jealous of a Time Gone By
How do you buy clothing?
We have an outlet mall, so I go there and root around in stacks of clothing, brow furrowed, until I find something decent enough where I think “That will do.”
It takes a long time and it is frustrating and boring and I rarely get anything delightful or fun. Mostly I just have things that cover my body in some way or another that, I hope, aren’t too hideous.
My grandmother had a dress shop in Morgan Hill, California – a normal little ladies’ store like most towns had back then. She opened it some time in the 1950s and expanded it from just baby items to a full line of women’s wear. It wasn’t expensive, but it was “nice.”
My grandmother’s store was here, on the corner.
She went to the merchandise shows a few times a year and bought for her store. She searched out really good lines of clothing, so the things you bought from her would never have crooked zippers or patterns that didn’t match at the seams.
Now comes the extraordinary part – she put things aside for her customers.
She knew her customers so well – their sizes, their shapes, their tastes – that she could buy clothing for them that she knew they’d love. She would call them up and say “Bev, I have something I put aside for you. When you have a minute, drop by and take a look.”
Gramie – Janie to her customers – proudly told me that the ladies usually bought what she had set aside for them. They would slip on the clothing and it would make them look…beautiful.
She was a smart businesswoman and she did well for herself. She was like your sassy, funny best friend who just happened to have great taste in clothing.
Gramie was wise. She shut her shop and retired as soon as the mall (that word, “mall” was said with a good measure of disgust) started cutting into her business.
As I paw through the piles of clothing at the outlet, noting the paper-thin fabric, the bunched seams and the loose threads, I dream of shopping at Janie’s.