After working at Alta for 17 years, Holly Hill returns to the same location not only as the chicly dressed, helpful store manager, but as the owner.
The new store at the same location at 701 Laurel Street opens after Labor Day under her own name – Holly Hill – fitting in this era of the personal brand.
When Alta’s owner gave Hill two week’s notice that she’d decided to close up the last remaining shop, longtime customers weren’t the only ones in shock.
“It broke my heart,” Hill said, adding that while she understood Rhonda Lackmann’s decision to shutter the business for personal and financial reasons, the short notice meant working 24/7 to liquidate the inventory and no time to contact customers. “We left people in the lurch and that killed me,” she said.
So Hill took a couple weeks off to recover and mull over her situation. She and her husband Ray went to Pismo Beach, drank champagne and did some serious talking about the future.
Hill says she could have retired, but decided she wasn’t ready to quit retail, a career she’s loved for several decades. Before Alta, she worked at GAP, both in stores and at the corporate level.
Calling herself, “old enough to know better and young enough to do it anyway,” Hill decided to take a risk and reinvested her retirement savings on launching her own business.
“That’s how much I believe in this store,” she said. “It’s always been more than just a clothing shop. I know the women who come in here, I know their husbands, their kids.”
While Hill plans to keep the general feel of Alta so that original customers will feel comfortable and at home, she’s looking forward to making a few alterations.
“The demographics in town are changing,” Hill said. “There are more young moms, 35-45, who may not feel like they can handle the young, contemporary look anymore.” For them, Hill plans to add some new lines as well as more choices at reasonable price points.
For those with deeper wallets and a hankering for you-won’t-see-this-elsewhere-unique-pieces, Holly Hill will continue to carry, “those luscious French and Italian” imports.
Expect another change: a more rapid turnover of inventory. “Because so many customers stop by once a week, things will change more quickly in the store,” to keep it fresh and interesting.
On the afternoon The Laurel Street Spy stopped by to interview Hill, former Alta customers kept popping in to wish her well on her new venture.
While Hill’s excited about sprucing up the shop, she says she’s really excited about the clothing she’s selected…all on her own, joking, “I’m the decider now!”
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