Check out this week’s “Store Spotlight” with The Toggery in Little Rock, Arkansas. So what is the meaning of “toggery”? Phil Olinghouse, owner of The Toggery children’s store tells us about what The Toggery means to him and about his fun “Elf on the Shelf” blog type items, where he shopped as a kid, and the evolution of his store since its inception in1948.
tog·ger·y (tg-r, tôg-)
n. pl. tog·ger·ies
1. Clothing; togs.
2. A clothing store.
1. What is one fact about your store that a typical customer wouldn’t know?
Phil: The number of hours that Penny (my wife) and I put in trying to respond to the needs of our customers. We spend untold time on special orders and special requests.
2. What sets you apart as a successful children’s store?
Phil: We have been able to relate to the needs of our customers, and make every effort to supply those needs in a timely manner with a fair price that provides good value. We have consistently provided service that focuses on our customer first and foremost.
3. You probably have seen hundreds of mommies and daddies come through your store and hear them speaking with their children – what is the funniest or sweetest thing you have heard come out of a child’s mouth recently?
Phil: No talking allowed at the Toggery, I don’t know. (wink, wink)
4. Are you a Little Rock native? Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
Phil: Penny and I both grew up in Little Rock. Our Heights location is where The Toggery started in 1948 and we have been in the same location since 1962. This is a wonderful old neighborhood where we know our neighbors. The shopping area has always attracted customers from all over the state of Arkansas because of its reputation for unique upscale shopping. On the other hand our Pleasant Ridge Town Center store, which we newly opened in January, has reinforced our commitment to that part of our city. This has been the center of growth for a number of years and we have been a part of west Little Rock since 1978.
4. What type of clothing did you wear growing up as kid? What tip would you give to a parent dressing a child? Do you have a picture of you as a kid you can share with us?
Phil: My mother dressed me at JCPenny, Sears, and the Crystal Kiddie children’s shop. Pretty traditional stuff – who can remember that far back? I think mothers today should focus on unique clothes that reflect their taste and lifestyle. Remember quality clothes last longer and look better longer.
5. We love your blog –what is your daily inspiration for your blog entries? How many bloggers are on your team of writers? What has been your most popular blog item?
Phil: Last June we formed a web team whose mission is to enhance the presence of The Toggery on the Internet. The three young people that work on this project bring a ton of enthusiasm and energy to their job. Caroline Tyler, a creative writing graduate student writes our blog. She has had an incredible response. Our team brainstorms at our weekly meetings and she brings these ideas to life. This team also markets our store through e-mail and Facebook campaigns. My favorite promotion was last Christmas when we had a contest to name your elf, based on the “Elf On The Shelf” book. The response was incredible and the creativity of the names our customers had was incredible.
6. You have a great selection of items to buy from your store from clothes to shoes to uniforms to books! What is your favorite children’s book and why?
Phil: My favorite book is “On The Night You Were Born” by Nancy Tillman. This book gets right to heart of what you want a child to hear early on. It is a wonderful story that should be in every library.
7. If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
Phil: Be extremely focused on what you want your store to be. Listen to your customers and never forget you are there to serve them in an extraordinary way. Last, always have a planned buy and do not overbuy. More stores fail because of how much they buy, rather than what they buy.
8. What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
Phil: I think when Penny and I had our first grandchild and got to clothe her (and the four that have followed) has been memorable and meaningful. They have certainly rejuvenated and stimulated our buying. That was 10 years ago and we are a much better store because of them.
9. What collection or piece from Le Top or Le Top Baby line do you love from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
Phil: We loved the boys Choo Choo Zoo collection from Le Top Baby. It was pure Le Top, traditional and very special for our newborn boys. And the best part was it sold great!
Pleasant Ridge Town Center
11525 Cantrell Road Ste. 405
Little Rock, Arkansas 72212