September 30, 2020 3 min read
Did you hear? It slipped out on social media Oct 1 that Lolly’s was celebrating 20 years in business. We were grateful for all the well wishes but noticed that so many were surprised it had been so long. I realized that although we are fortunate to have so many long-time customers, many of you are not aware that Lolly's that is today, is the sequel to Blooming Gals Maternity.
We are excited to share our celebration with you but before we do let's start at the beginning.. we've heard it's a very good place to start. My friend Colette Ballam and I had often dreamed of the possibility of opening a maternity store together. In 1999, I found myself unemployed and the "someday" suddenly turned into some serious exploration. We all know that things are a lot more fun and feel a lot safer when you have a friend at your side so...we took the leap! It was an exciting time deciding on a name and logo, the store design, product lines and of course...LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION, was of the utmost importance!
We set up shop and started our dream near an established children's store downtown. It was a logical, solid business choice, but owners Judith and Andrea were the real draw. They "cheered" us on, willingly shared their experiences in business and as Mom's trying to balance it all they were inspiring. They have long since retired ( I'm dreaming) but we are fortunate that others have followed to fill their shoes. Our "downtown family" provides a daily source of support and at times maybe some fun "drama". lol Stay tuned for the Netflix special, The Real Merchants of Downtown Chilliwack! :)
There are so many surprises along the way, these are some of our favs! It was our first buying trip in Vancouver picking out our new collections and we discovered the Maternity Sales Reps were 2 men! “Meet Ronnie and Roy” they were two older gentlemen who shared a showroom and reminded us of an old married couple. We had little faith in the beginning that they could understand the needs of a pregnant woman when it came to comfort fit and style, but hey, they knew their stuff! Having a love and attachment to Downtown it felt right to look for a space here. I had fond memories of Eaton's which is now the location of the bowling alley.
While my parents shopped, I ran up and down the fabulous staircases at each end of the store, sliding my hand down the shiny chrome banister. Here is a Lolly’s truth: to this day on buying trips I am easily distracted from “shopping” and wander off. Often leaving Les or Kate to make decisions on sizing and color. I knew balancing family life and this venture was going to be tricky, however I hadn't anticipated that it would require me to travel to Japan for 3 weeks just prior to opening day. Somehow, I managed arriving home in the wee hours October 1^st, 2000 to open the doors a few hours later to a lineup of eager customers. I remember one customer most vividly from that first day, she was expecting twins. I thought for sure that it was a good omen!
The first few years flew by while my boys past the after-school hours parading in the shop window wearing a foam maternity belly to amuse not only themselves but customers and passersby's alike! I was prepared that success could take years of sacrifice, determination, and someone else might say my stubbornness! However, it is the countless and selfless ways my family and friends stepped in that not only humbles me but most certainly explains our longevity. They have covered shifts, decorated, painted, fixed leaks and so much more. Derek has even sheepishly sold breast pumps on occasion.
You might have bumped into some of these special people yourself when you've shopped or attended some of our events.( Yes, Jan I'm talking about you) One of the biggest lessons I have learned along the way is that you never know what the day will bring or who you may meet. Like in the case of Les. Many of you have come to rely on her expertise putting together that perfect outfit over the past 18 years! I am sure you are just as grateful as I am that her quest for a pair of maternity jeans brought her through my door.
So, I hope that sheds a little light on how it all began, and of course there is so much more but let's get to the good stuff! We have lots of fun planned for you... Giveaways, Gift Cards and maybe even a few tidbits on the later years. Lois xo
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