Monday, June 7, 2010

My First Mentor

About a year ago, Jim and I went to Charlottesville over the weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We try to go for our anniversary every second or third year, since we were married there in 1995.

We have little rituals that we follow, including sandwiches from our favorite shop on Elliewood (Take It Away - a relative of the Cheese Shop for all you W&M folks). After the sandwiches have been devoured on The Lawn and we've taken a stroll around the UVA Grounds, we visit the different shops on The Corner. Mostly, this is me visiting and Jim standing outside, holding my purchases and people watching.

There were several new stores on The Corner since we had last visited, one of them being a small store behind Starbucks called Duo ( . I was immediately charmed when I went in - warm, welcoming decor, unique clothing, and a unique concept - new clothing downstairs and consignment upstairs! I spent quite a bit of time there and emerged with two tops, both of which were fun and affordable.

I continued to talk about Duo at dinner that night, still struck by the experience I had earlier that day. And I continued to talk about Duo throughout the summer. Finally, I said to Jim "I think I'll ask the owner if she'd be willing to answer some questions for me about the retail business. The worst she can say is "No" and I'll look elsewhere." He said "Go for it!" and I emailed her.

Very fortunately for me, she emailed me back and said she would be delighted to talk with me and we discussed potential dates for my visit. Since weekends are such a busy time in the retail business, we decided I would visit on a Tuesday late morning in October. I took a day off from work and drove to Charlottesville for the day!

I had painstakingly listed many questions to ask her and she patiently and enthusiastically answered each one. By the time we were done, I felt I had my answer - this was something I could do! I enjoyed the rest of my day shopping in Charlottesville (I admit to buying another top and a scarf at Duo before I left) and drove home that evening.

Greer (the owner) has continued to be a supportive advocate for me. If you are ever in Charlottesville, please visit her store - I guarantee you will not leave disappointed!

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