Last modified: Tuesday, March 20, 2007 4:30 PM CDT
Businesswomen find success in Maplewood
|Monika Kleban photo/ Participants of the Women Making History event in Maplewood chat during a stop at Young's Regent Parade, a consignment store on Big Bend Boulevard. They are, from left, Megan Frank of Kirkwood and Amy Kohlbecker of Glendale, both with CFX Advertising; and Susan Maurer of Glendale. Maurer is an account executive with the Ladue News.
By Kelly McCann
Since moving to Maplewood in 1959, Jane Moeller has seen the city go through many transitions of good times and not-so-good times. Today, Maplewood again is booming with businesses, many of them owned by women.
Last week, the former mayor, along with dozens of men and women, embarked on a tour of many of Maplewood's female-owned businesses. Rachelle L'Ecuyer, director of community development for the city, spearheaded the Women Making History event, which commemorated March as Women's History Month. Participants set out from Minions Cafe to explore clothing boutiques such as femme and The Time, home-furnishing stores such as Fine Light Limited and antique stores such as Pom Pom.
For Christy Loggins, the tour was something she had been meaning to do on her own for years. Loggins has worked at the Enterprise National Reservation Center in Maplewood for the last four years but says she had never found the time to stop and walk through the shops. Loggins, a south St. Louis resident, thought the event was "awesome."
"It was interesting to see how the community is so close and everyone is working with one another," Loggins said. "The small shops look out for one another versus the competition of larger companies."
Throughout the 1940s, '50s and '60s, Maplewood served as a haven for shoppers. Moeller recalls the great shops that lined Manchester Road and having to move over on the crowded sidewalks to make room for others to get by. Of all the hat, shoe and clothing stores that occupied the streets of Maplewood, Moeller's favorite was Goldie's Department store, which was destroyed in a fire in the 1970s.
During the late 1960s and the '70s, newer West County communities and the popularity of the shopping mall lured people away from Maplewood, slowing the city's growth.
"I have seen Maplewood when it was way up, way down, medium up and now great," Moeller said.
Roots, which will celebrate its one-year anniversary next month, was among the destinations of the tour. Owned by sisters Nancy Kassabaum of Kirkwood, Penny Dreyer of Warson Woods and Patti Brightfield of Webster Groves, Roots is home to antique, vintage and salvage items. The sisters say they all collect various things, so it was a natural transition to sell them so they can collect more.
Participants also visited another family operation in Maplewood. Alicia LaChance, along with her brother, William, and husband, Michael Hoffman, opened the Hoffman LaChance Contemporary Art Museum four months ago. With a long history in the city, the trio knew Maplewood would be the perfect location for the museum.
"We have had 400 to 500 people turn out for our openings," said Alicia LaChance. "It's really amazing."
The event concluded with a reception at Moosylvania Marketing, where guests shared reactions to their tour experiences.
Heather Testa, owner of the Ten8Group, was impressed with all of the businesses.
"I had no idea that there were that many women-owned businesses in Maplewood," Testa said. "The owners were very encouraging as far as bringing new businesses in and were very supportive of that."
Jennifer Quinn Williams, founder of the St. Louis Closet Co., wrapped up the evening with a presentation about her experiences starting her own company. Williams started the business in 1991 while attending graduate school. Today, Maplewood is home to the company's headquarters, where all of the closet systems are designed and manufactured.
"I really enjoyed Jennifer's presentation about how she got started," Loggins said. "I need to hear that to know anything is possible if you have that drive to want to do it."
You can contact Kelly McCann at email@example.com.