In my early 20’s, the seed was planted. The love of Retail was formed and the desire to own my own store was engraved in my heart. Together Duane and I dreamed. We both loved the beach and we both were ambitious and very hard workers. The “Breeden Team” as we jokingly refer to it, was formed. I dreamed of Opening up my own store at the beach. He was always supportive of my dreams and said he would follow and support me. Keep in mind, Duane had never left home other than vacations. He had never lived anywhere else but he grew up vacationing in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and grew quite fond of it. Our family vacationed in Corolla, North Carolina.
I received an offer to work as an Asst. manager to the new store opening, Westport which is a division of the Dress Barn, in the nearly opened outlets of Nagshead. I moved to Kill Devil Hills and rented a cute Beach Box on Stilts. I Loved my first little house and loved adulting. Duane continued to work in management at Jefferson National Bank and would visit every weekend. In 1989 he received an offer to work at Riggs Reality in Corolla and he accepted. We moved in together and began our life which in the same year he refinanced his jeep and surprised me with an engagement ring! I was thrilled and so excited to accept. My life was falling into place. Six months later in October 1990, we were married at the Chapel by the Sea with our friends and family present and our reception at the Nagshead waterfront club.
Until Meeting Duane, I had never touched a computer…..Computers were not the “must have” at this time. Internet did not exist. iPhones did not exist. He was a guru of technology and loved tinkering and taking apart computers. My first Computer was a Texas Instrument and then a IBM desktop with Dos. Remember those? I can remember how intimidated I was learning the computers. I honestly hated Word processing, wordperfect and felt so inadequate. I liked cash registers not computers! I needed an updated resume to get a job in NC so I could get there and start mapping out my dream. I needed a business plan to get a loan and I could not afford to have someone do it for me. I was only making about 12K a year and living paycheck to paycheck. On Duane’s visiting weekends, he would look for jobs and we would scope out possible places to open a store. The excitement in my heart was embedded deep I could see my new store, I could see me waiting on customers. It was 24/7 desire or obsession. Corolla was the place for my first store! I would dream for days and every waking hour about my store, thinking of names, cutting out pictures from magazines and filing them (the old fashion Pinterest). At this point I remember being frustrated at how to find wholesalers. I had to look for them the old fashion way, there was no internet, there was no AmericasMart for Small folks. Buying Markets as they were called, like today’s Americasmart, Dallas Market and New York, intimidated and I thought, I would never get in. I thought were for buyers like The Limited, and Lord and Taylor. I never had the desire to go overseas to find product.Becoming a buyer was my second dream in retail or a district manager if owning my own store was not possible.
Vintage photos below: First computer, Bag phones & Old fashion Pinterest
How would I finance this dream? We were living paycheck to paycheck and we did not know any wealthy investors who would take a chance on us. Finding a bank who believed in a 20-something year old was a bit daunting in itself. I couldn’t let this damper my dream. I believed I could and I would! I marched on, planning my store in my head and in my business plan with the help of my husband who had experience with business plans from his eduction and experience at UVA McIntyre School of Commerce.
One year later. Sometimes even the brightest well thought out plans don’t work out. We were struggling to pay the bills and live. Our salaries combined were defined as very close to poverty level. Maybe the timing just wasn’t right. Living on the island, we realized once the tourists were gone, many stores had a hard time surviving. Accepting this realization that we did not have the funds and we were not able to make the dream a reality (yet), we moved back to our “safe zone”, Staunton Virginia. We both agreed, maybe it is better to open a store in Staunton surrounded by the support of Family and friends. We were thrilled to buy our very first house in Hillcrest, one in which my brother Todd built. He also was a dreamer and broke the mold of a 9-5 and became an entrepreneur building quality homes in Staunton. It must be in our families blood!
No matter where Duane and I went or what we did, we never made the “Jump” until we had something else lined up. In the 1990’s looking for a job in Staunton involved the help wanted ads, there was no Indeed or Monster to view a job listings. I answered an ad for a General Manager with a local Business in Staunton in 1991. I was very excited and felt I would be exceptional at this job and as a twenty-something year old, the money was good. I felt it was the closest I would get to running a small business without actually owning one. The Virginia Made Shop had proved to be a successful business and it was time for them to expand. I was on top of the world….empowered and honored that I was chosen. I gladly accepted the position as General Manager of The Virginia Made Shop and Duane accepted an offer to help out one of the best Businessmen/entrepreneurs in Staunton, Gordon B.
The Virginia Made Shop owners, Terry and Ginger L., were in the process of growing their business and wanted someone to open a store in Harrisonburg as well as oversee the Staunton store on Rowe Road. Long story short, I assisted Terry and Ginger with the opening of their second location and it gave me the added experience as well as a small taste of what it was really like to open from the ground up. They taught me a great deal and I am forever grateful.
Unbeknownst to us, change was coming. One year later almost to the day, Gordon had an opportunity in Greensboro North Carolina or Washington DC for Duane, An opportunity we could not pass up. I had never heard of Greensboro, was working my dream job and we had just bought a house. I was never a big city girl, so DC was out of the question for me, we both agreed Greensboro was better suited for us. I will never forget telling Terry and Ginger. It was bittersweet. I finally had a job I loved and working for people I admired but my marriage and my vows were rooted in Christ and I knew I had to trust God on this one.
To be continued…..Update the resume and Pack our bags to Greensboro
Advice to my 20 something self
Work hard & have top notch work ethic always
That desire in your heart was put there by God, follow it.
Always steps forward toward your dream even if they are tiny baby steps
Trust Gods timing
Work hard & have top notch work ethic always
Proverbs 16:3 – Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.
Its ok to JUMP but have a plan. “If you fail to plan…plan to fail”
Until next time, Keep Living your Dream