We are obsessing over this week’s Premier Store Spotlight with “The Pumpkin Patch”, located in West Virginia. Owner Sherry Houvouras walks us through her journey of opening her first store to reminiscing on her back to school fashions as a child to when Hollywood came to Huntington, West Virginia (and her spicy encounter with baby daddy Matthew McConaughey). We can’t wait to share our latest Q&A with the cutest store in West Virginia…read more and be as enchanted as we are with “The Pumpkin Patch.”
1. Where did the name The Pumpkin Patch come from?
Sherry: When the first of our four children was born, Andrea picked up the moniker of ”our little pumpkin.” So when we decided to open our first children’s store in 1977, it was a natural to name it “The Pumpkin Patch.”
We opened in 1977 and were fortunate that we did not have the large malls we do now at the time, however, we did have several other small children’s stores in the area with the closest being 15 miles away. We made every effort to carry brands that other kids’ stores did not carry. We ventured into the world of maternity apparel after several years and found this segment of our business to be lots of fun. We enthusiasticlly accepted to open our store as we had several large local corporations with many female employees who were required to ‘dress professionally’ and they were thrilled to find career type maternity fashions at The Pumpkin Patch. In addition, we carried a large selection of nursery bedding ensembles.
2. Can you share any pictures of your store with us?
3. Describe the neighborhood where your stores are located.
Sherry: The Pumpkin Patch is located in a strip mall in a small town with a population of approximately 4,000 people. However we are situated on the border of West Virginia and Kentucky. So we draw many customers from the Kentucky area.
4. Your first store began in 1977 and then you expanded with a 2nd store in 1989 – what made you decide to expand and what do you think is special about each store?
Sherry: In l989, and three children later, we opened a second store approximately 15 miles from The Pumpkin Patch. The second store, which we named City Kids, is located on a main street of Huntington, West Virginia. The location of City Kids is in a nostalgic street front store in a historic hotel, The Frederick, which dates back to the glory days when entertainers such as Dagmar, Judy Garland, Red Buttons, and others came to Huntington to perform. A “kiddie store” (as older residents tell me) has been in this same spot for over 75 years. We chose a different name for the second store with the thought that a customer would more likely travel from one store to the other if they knew they would find different product lines – they might not venture to a second store if they thought we were a duplicate of the first. This plan has worked well for us as we actually force customers to travel to both shops in order to ”see it all”. If we discover a shopper didn’t find an item at one store, we describe something we carry at the other location and they are anxious to make the short drive. In addition, City Kids really caters to the working mom who is shopping on her lunch hour as we are in the center of the business district. However, since we close at City Kids at 5 p.m. each day, if a customer finds they can’t get at item at noontime, they can always drive to The Pumpkin Patch where we are open until 8 p.m. daily. Huntington is on the border of Ohio, so this store has a large draw of customers from the Ohio area.
5. What sets you apart with two successful children’s stores?
Sherry: We are constantly stiving to stay abreast of current trends, yet our area has really suffered from the economic downturn, so we also must be aware of a good product at a good value. That’s one of the reasons Le Top is one of our most popular lines. A comment I often hear when a customer is mentioning Le Top is “Le Top makes such a quality garments and the style is always fun.” Le Top has a wonderful girl’s line, but customers rave over the boys fashions.
6. Back to school is here – do you remember what you wanted to wear on your first day of school or a childhood memory of your first day at school?
Sherry: Back to school has certainly changed from the time I was a little girl. My mother would take me shopping for 4 or 5 little plaid dresses – each a different color plaid. I also always had to get a new pair of Buster Brown shoes. I was quite a tomboy and would really have perferred to have worn pants that had a turn- up flannel cuff on the pant leg. The flannel turned up cuff would have been the same material the longsleeve flanned shirt would have been.
7. What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Sherry: One of the most exciting times at our store was when Hollywood came to Huntington, WV. The movie, “We are Marshall” starring Matthew Fox and Matthew McConaughey was filmed over a three month period in our area in 2006 It was the true story of the devastating loss our town suffered in 1970 when 75 football players, coaches, and alumni were killed in a plane crash as they were returning to Huntington from a game they had played at East Carolina. Matthew McConaughey filmed shots inside and outside of the building where City Kids is located. It was “really tough work” for me staying afterhours and watching them shoot scenes of Matthew McConaughey but I made the sacrifice and I have a lovely autographed picture of a shirtless Mr. McConaughey gracing our wall.
8. What collection or piece from Le Top line do you love from the Fall/Holiday 2010 collection?
Sherry: My favorite group this fall has been from the Lavender Blue group. in lines where I have the opportunity, I always choose a different style from the same group for each size range so a mom can have three little girls and coordinate a wonderful picture in like colors but each child can have their own look. Le Top allows me to have lots of choices. We have huge windows at both stores, and Le Top offers me great options when merchandising….You cannot imagine how many customers venture in just because a ‘great look’ in the window caught their eye.
The Pumpkin Patch
Rt. 60 Ceredo Plaza
Ceredo, West Virginia
948 4th Avenue
Huntington, West Virginia