I realized that weeks ago (maybe months) I hid a post that I wrote back in February. It was my contribution to the founder and CEO's scrapbook that many of her former employees put together for her. I had hid the post in a fit of paranoia over my anonymity on the internet and quickly forgot about it. Last night I found it, reposted it and read through it a couple times. I went to bed with tears in my eyes. In fact, I have tears in my eyes now.
That post can be found here.
As much as I love my job now, I know nothing will ever compare to what we did at Club Libby Lu. The mission statement gets me every time. It was "To make every girl feel special." We did whatever we possibly could to make every girl feel truly special. We made girls feel confident and proud of themselves. They could come into our stores and be whoever they wanted to be and be accepted. No matter what.
I have so many stories of girls that count their days at Club Libby Lu as some of their favorite days in their lives. One story in particular that my old assistant, and now good friend, reminded me of the other day.
I was managing my first location in Overland Park, KS and a very over protective mom came into my store the morning of her 10 year olds birthday party. She was very concerned that the "costumes" we had available to the girls would not fit her 10 year old. Her little girl was a little chubbier than the average 10 year old, but honestly? Was not something that she probably wouldn't lose if she was careful as she grew up.
Now, we were a "never say no" retailer, relying mainly on word of mouth advertisement during the first 4-5 years that we were open. I was so determined to make this mother happy and make damn sure that this little girl had a good time. I saw a little of myself in her. I was always a little chubbier growing up and was very self conscious of it. I wanted her to know that it was okay.
Here is what the mother wanted me to do. She wanted me to come up with "plus size" costumes to mix in with everything we were offering to wear for the parties. Of course I had no way to come up with more costumes as I had no time to leave my store and go shopping. I told her mother that if she bought clothes I would happily place them with our other costumes and offer them to her daughters party without her daughter having any idea. She quickly looked disappointed and said she did not have enough money to cover the cost of that afternoons party and new costumes. Then she asked me if Club Libby Lu would pay for it. Somewhat demanded it if I'm remembering correctly. I told her I would do what I could.
She then went to Nordstrom and spent $200 on clothes, even having them altered and came back into the store wanting us to buy them from her. How could I say no?
Of course I pulled $200 out of our drawers, handed it over to the mother with a big grin telling her to go home, get ready for the party and everything would be just fine.
After she left I looked at my assistant in horror. What had I just done? I just took $200 from the drawer and bought plus size costumes? I don't exactly think that is outlined as okay in the policies and procedures binder.
Then I called my district manager (who is now also a close friend of mine) and told her exactly what I did. And what I planned to do. I was going to offer the clothes to the girl's birthday party and then return the clothes (in perfect condition... besides the alterations. Oops) to Nordstrom. I was aware of their relaxed returned policy and knew they would let you return an old tire if you swore up and down you bought it there. :)
Luckily, I had the best assistant in the world and she did the dirty work for me. She went back to Nordstrom, pretended that mother was her own crazy mother and returned the clothes! Seriously, she is the BEST! It worked like a charm. We got the cash back to replace what I took and this little girl had the best birthday party ever! Her mother was happy and we were happy. It felt wonderful.
See, those were the things we did at Club Libby Lu. We wanted her day to be perfect. We wanted her to feel special no matter what. Those were the types of things all 100 stores in the company did, because it was our job. Hands down, best job in the world and I will never forget it. The memories and the people I have met through this truly amazing concept will never be forgotten.
Do not get me wrong, I love my job now. In fact, with each day I'm loving it more and more. I am working with the same target, the tween market, and it is almost just as good as CLL. I know how very blessed I am and I am so thankful.
Below is a picture of me and that assistant that has become one of my closest, dearest friends in that very store the weekend before it closed.