Businesses finding their niches
Two vastly different retail ventures along Peter’s Creek Parkway are looking to attract customers.
At Marketplace Mall, Dorothy Moton has worked to breathe new life into Joyful Expressions since she took over the gift shop kiosk last month, while a few miles down the road in Oliver’s Crossing Shopping Center, Tory and Lorraine Jackson are nearly a year into providing quality products and customer care at their Ladies First Shoe Boutique.
Moton took over Joyful Expressions, which has a prime location at the mall’s main entrance, from a friend after he relocated out of state.
“It’s a gift from God,” she said. “I just believe the Lord blessed me through him.”
Though it is her first time working in retail, Moton is an experienced entrepreneur. She ran a furniture reupholstery business and in-home tailoring shop. Her talents with a sewing machine led to her creating her own handbags, including her signature Buttzy Bags, decorative purses created from the hip and posterior areas of jeans.
Working in the bustling Marketplace is a change of pace for Moton, but one she says she enjoys.
“I love talking to some people and helping them to get what they need or helping in any way I can help them,” she said. “Just showing God’s love, to me that’s what it’s all about.”
Buttzy Bags are popular items, but far from the only product Moton offers. Joyful Expressions is stocked full of paintings, scented oils, oil burners, lamps, cell phone accessories, sunglasses, handmade African baskets, Christian themed hats and other gifts.
She reports that the response has been positive since she took over, with new and even longtime customers snatching up her wares. Moton is expecting and preparing for a Christmas rush.
“I love the people out here,” she said of Marketplace shoppers. “They just receive me like I’ve been here all along.”
The retail business has also been a change of pace for the Jacksons. He worked in corporate America for 23 years, and she has a full-time job at Wake Forest University. When they opened Ladies First, they put their faith in one of life’s few constants.
“It’s something that’s always needed. Women will always buy shoes,” said Tory, a father of three.
The couple, along with their two daughters, find the latest trendy top brands at trade shows around the country to offer to local customers at prices they say are better than their competitors’. The boutique has also found a niche by offering larger, hard to find sizes. Most shoes are offered up to a size 12. The exact in-store selection and prices are offered online at the shop’s web site (www.ladiesfirstshoes.com), giving shoe lovers around the world access to Ladies First.
“They’re pocket friendly,” Lorraine said of her products. “We are into giving women quality shoes at a reasonable price.”
The store itself is designed to be a haven for women, from its pink, shoe-lined walls and brightly-colored sofas, to the love ballads and scented aroma that float through the building.
“Most of the time when ladies leave here, they’re very happy, because … they purchased something that they’re going to enjoy,” Lorraine said.
The store will soon begin offering private shoe parties, where attendees will enjoy refreshments and fellowship as they try on shoes.
The Jacksons, who currently have one employee, hope to hire more people and open other locations in the future. Positive sales have encouraged them that those dreams will someday be realities.
“People have responded real well,” Tory said. “I think people want to shop local, and they’ve been supportive so we’ve done real well.”
Joyful Expressions at Marketplace Mall, 2101 Peters Creek Parkway, is open 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday; 12–6 p.m. on Friday; and 11 a.m.–6 p.m. on Saturday. Ladies First, 5022 Peters Creek Pkwy, is open 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Monday–Saturday, and in the month of August has a buy one and get one half off sale.