I take the Fifth! Check out our 5th premier retailer in our “Store Spotlight” series where we feature one Le Top’s best stores of the week. Cheryl Leslie, owner of Lad N’ Lassie, gives us the inside details of kid shopping in Prestonburg, Kentucky, and her special, heartfelt moments at her store.
Lad N'Lassie store front featuring Le Top's Playful Pups collection
1. What made you decide to enter the children’s business?
CHERYL: Let’s see – I bought the business back in 1997, but Lad N’ Lassie has been in business since 1966! In 1997, the owners at the time were looking to sell because they were tired (owning a children’s store is 24/7!). I had honestly never been in retail, and they approached me about buying it. It [buying Lad N’ Lassie] was just something that I had positive feelings about. I have loved every single day of it since. I used to shop for my children in the store and I was so familiar with the location already. What is funny is the story even goes deeper than that. The owner’s husband was my father’s lab technician at his dental practice and we knew each other going back over the years!
2. What was your background prior to this business?
CHERYL: I was a dental assistant for 22 in my father’s dental practice.
Le Top: You must have some pretty white and bright teeth?
CHERYL: Oh, yes! A big plus in my life! But, I learned the children’s business very, very quickly, all on my own.
3. The name of your store reminds of me of country handsome boys and sweet hometown girls – where did the name come from?
CHERYL: It’s funny you asked, because I actually just called the daughter of the previous owner to find out where the name of our store came from. I discovered that the owner had named it Lad N’ Lassie because its another name for a cute boy and girl – plain and simple as that! The previous owner’s name was Dot Marshall. She was a great woman. I purchased the store from her daughter Meg who is now retired.
4. Your store is located in Prestonburg, Kentucky, otherwise known as the Star City of Eastern Kentucky – it sounds enchanting! Describe the neighborhood your store is in for us.
CHERYL: We are in a very, very tiny town where there is a 3,000-person population. There are only 2 children’s stores in our county, along with a little ladies store, a jewelry store…you get the picture, very few stores. Despite such a small local population, I am lucky enough to have all of my surrounding counties and my customer base range as far as over 250 miles away! We are located in a valley in the mountains, surrounded by lush greenery. Everybody knows everybody (just like Cheers!). Overall, it is a beautiful, quiet town that is ‘homey.’
5. Who is your target customer? Do you specialize in any certain types of product?
CHERYL: Our target customers are grandparents and parents. If I had to break down our 3 main types of product, they would be: clothing, shoes and toys, but clothes are definitely our number one! Our customers are always looking for something unique, comfortable, great quality, and of course, easy to care for. We do a tremendous business in baby registry.
Le Top: Do you ever get any ‘Momzilla’s’ for baby registries that want anything and everything?
CHERYL: Oh yea!!! We even deliver directly to the baby showers and these moms always want it ALL. Baby registry at our store is so popular that kids are now registering for their own birthdays.
Le Top: Really? What age?
CHERYL: From babies to 2-years-old! The kids come in the store and pick what out what they want out and we (Lad N’ Lassie) set up a registry table at the store. We do whatever works! We could have as many as 4-5 showers on a weekend. People call with their credit card and we deliver and drive over the gifts personally to our customers.
Baby section highlights Le Top Baby's Puppy's Day Out collection
6. What products are your ‘fly-off-the-shelf’ type items?
CHERYL: That is hard to say. Customers come into the store to buy clothes and it ALWAYS has to be the complete ensemble. The bow, the hat, and the shoes – the complete look. I love Le Top (as do our customers) – you always have the entire look from the dress to the tights to the purse and more.
7. “When are we going to be there?” We’ve all heard it. Let’s be honest, we have all gone on a long road trip in a car growing up with the family. Hypothetically, if you drove across the country, what 3 items could you never live without? AND if someone was driving through Prestonburg – what 3 places should they stop and see?
CHERYL: 3 items I could never live without on a long road trip might sound funny because it is so simple:
1) Food 2) Family 3) Makeup
CHERYL: If someone were driving through Prestonburg, I would tell him or her to stop at these 3 great places:
1) Jenny Wiley State Park – it is the home of Dewey Lake, and also has Jenny Wiley Amphitheater that sells out all of its plays. The amphitheater actually opens next week and it’s like going to Broadway in New York City (actors travel from all over the country to perform here).
2) Stonecrest Golf Course
3) Then probably our Mountain Arts Center that brings in musical entertainment of all kinds…from rock to country. We even have our own contemporary Kentucky Opry.
4) BUT, if I could name a 4th place, they would have to come see me at Lad N’ Lassie
8. Between all of the social media outlets – Facebook, Twitter, and more – what do you think about social networking and how it allows moms and dads to come together as a parenting community?
CHERYL: I think it is a great thing [cyber parenting communities]. I have had a couple of parents recently come into the store and bring brochures where they want to get together with other parents in online chat rooms or Facebook type parenting groups; especially when they are new in the community, it helps to networks. These parents leave their email contact info and Facebook info on pamphlets and then they get together to meet new people. Overall, I think it is a wonderful idea! I am personally on Facebook. I am even a fan of Le Top on Facebook.
9. What do you feel are the three biggest keys to your success?
1) Great customer service and staff knowledge
2): Hard work. It’s not a 9-5 job…it is 24/7. I come back here so many nights to do paperwork or put up product – there is always something. Throughout the day, I am with customers and there is never enough time in the day. If someone says to you in the children’s retail world that they are bored, there is something wrong.
3) You have TO HAVE a terrific working rapport with your sales reps and vendors and able to contact them. I rely on them for so much, and I don’t know how many times a week I talk to them for something I need in the store.
10. How do you select your products for the store?
CHERYL: I attend a lot of markets, such as the one in Atlanta, the local market in Lexington, Kentucky, as well as Nashville. My reps call me all the time and because of the trust I have with them over the years, they tell me about new products or lines coming out that they want me to look at; I always check it out and try to keep things new and fresh.
11. What is one trend you are seeing now that you love and one that you want to go away for dressing children?
CHERYL: The trend I love is color and whimsy! I love clothing that makes a child look like a child. Le Top customers always ‘ooh and ahh’ over the design and quality.
As for something I’m not a fan of? I want to see children look like children. I tend to steer away from the ‘adult’ looking clothing. I understand for older kids such as older girls that are 11-years-old to dress them up a bit like a young adult (trust me they love the “bling” and over the top items), but I can’t help but like cute clothing for kids!
12. If you had one piece of advice for someone entering children’s retail today, what would it be?
CHERYL: It is 24/7 and you have to love what you are doing. People ask me everyday about wanting to get into the business. They say to me that they want to do this everyday, but sometimes I think they want to dress their children wholesale (ha, ha!), but it’s a lot more than that!
13. You probably have had many mommies and their children come in and out of your store doors – what is one of the funniest things you have heard come out of parent or child’s mouth?
CHERYL: We laugh everyday in our store, but it’s hard to pinpoint one particular moment. I should keep a journal of it!
Shown here are pieces from rabbitmoon's Blossom and Passage collections.
14. What is your best or most memorable moment in your store?
CHERYL: You know there has been a few – I have had quite a few parents who have had newborns and left directly from the hospital and their first stop (before home) was my store to see me and I can see their new baby. It is so SWEET.
The other moment that I love is that most of the kids who come to our store never refer to my store as Lad N’ Lassie because we have a great play area for kids inside the store – they always say they want to go to, “Cheryl’s and play.” They come happy and leave crying and that is special to me that they enjoy coming here. One parent the other day told me she asked her child what he wanted to do today and he said, “I want to go to Cheryl’s!” We have a train set, Melissa and Doug toys, full kitchen with dishes, shopping cart, play table for Lego blocks, baby dolls and strollers, and more! The kids go to that area and we don’t hear a peep (plus the parents can shop easily)!
15. What collection or piece from Le Top and/or rabbitmoon are you loving from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection?
CHERYL: From Le Top, I love the Tulip Garden for girls and for boys Sail Away. In rabbitmoon I love the girls Cupcake collection and for boys I love Passage. Rabbitmoon has become one of my top selling lines. I think because it has a whole different look with its patterned designs and of course, the parents all talk about the ‘super soft feel.’ I get it [rabbitmoon] in the store and they just LOVE it.
Lad N’ Lassie
A Children’s Boutique
188 West Court Street
Prestonsburg, KY 41653
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