When I started my business back in the 1960's, I decided to sell my college gifts to the best stores I could possibly find. Not only that, but if there were two terrific stores in a town that were appropriate, I would choose the best one based upon a personal visit. While there, I appraised the "look of the store," the location, and any other pertinent information. When I made my decision, I would try to approach the manager or owner, and introduce myself. I always hoped for the best.
As I recall how much work was involved to located that "best" store, I can hardly believe that I even had the courage, the stamina, and the persistence to repeat that process, year after year, month after month, summer or winter. It must have been sheer stubbornness but I did visit almost every store in the whole of America. I was determined to do so.
My research process, to find the "best store" in a city, began with a visit to the main branch of the Boston Public Library. When I picked a state to cover, I would begin to review the yellow pages of every telephone book for that particular state. Sometimes, there were dozens, and I doggedly searched through them all. I would flip to "Gift Shops” and then to “Jewelry Shops," and look for the specialty ads, larger paid advertisements that provided more information about their products. There were certain key words or phrases that a better store would use repeatedly, and it took just seconds to select from the group, the several I wanted to specifically pursue.
If I decided to visit Dayton, Ohio, I would arrive there with a notebook listing every better store selected in Dayton and the small surrounding towns. It would take a week of follow through to find the stores, study them and arrange appointments. Now let us “fast forward” to 2015.
If I wanted to select the best retail stores Dayton, Ohio and vicinity I would begin with my computer or laptop and ask for a Google search, of course. There would be no need for telephone books, no visit to a library, just the words "gift shops” and “jewelry shops.” The Internet would now, not only show the location of the store selected, but also send a photo of the store itself, and even pop up with reviews from their satisfied customers.
I'm sure this antiquated method of salesmanship sounds positively nuts to present day on-the-road representatives. However, as difficult as it was at the time, there were upsides. . . many of them. One spectacular benefit - I was able to tour the whole of America, discovering in the process, how huge Texas really is, and spotting my very first cardinal in Virginia, etc. The best and most incredible upside of all, was finding my husband while I was looking for a pay phone in Evanston, IL. It was the best discovery I ever made. But that's another story. . .
Copper's note: Martha can be extremely humble at times. When she mentions the goal of being in the best stores Eglomise Products were carried in the Brooks Brothers Catalog beginning in 1968 or 1969. Her standards are high, for product quality and elegance as well as the places her products were sold.
Xavier University is named after St. Francis Xavier, a Spanish Basque Jesuit priest, and the university is managed by the Catholic Society of Jesuits who were renown for providing an in-depth education. We are looking at a paperweight from the history vault of Eglomise Designs, and some of these pieces are more than 50 years old. Although we cannot guarantee that we currently carry the product shown, we hope that you enjoy being side-tracked down memory lane. Perhaps you will share some of your own old pictures of Eglomise Designs products. If you wish, please send an image to: firstname.lastname@example.org
It is important to know your customer service representative - and here at Eglomise Designs it is Sherri. She is a great people-person, and understands her role. She loves to "get it right" and often gets this sort of praise :
"I received your package today. How generous. You were an absolute joy to work with, and please do not hesitate to use me as a reference for other clients. The paperweight is perfect as I have a board meeting this evening and can present it to the President. I love the box! We will keep you in the forefront of our minds as we purchase future recognition gifts. Thanks again!"
A. L. - Towson University
We have begun, after 50 years, the process of getting certified as a female owned and managed business. In that process we have to submit photos of the owners passports, the manager's passports, our history, resumes, and documentation after piece of documentation. It is funny because they want the first bank statements of the company and the first meeting minutes. After 50 years much of that is lost to time, flooding, moves of records, etc. So it will be interesting what we can prove after all of these years.
What many do not know is how we started. Martha began this company when she was young and unmarried in the 1960's. Martha has had, literally, two jobs in her whole life. One was working for someone else and they refused to promote her, an unmarried woman, and so she started her own company. She was still living with her mother at the time, something proper unmarried young women did in that day and age. But she traveled to sell her mirrors. The back of her station wagon often had mirrors waiting to be sold to the local gift shop or samples to show to colleges to gain a new customer.
Today I was given all of her and her husband's passports through the years so I could copy Martha's passport. I looked through, as a daughter-in-law is wont to do and marveled over how she looked in her younger years. I also marveled over the sight of my father-in-law with hair. I've known him only since his retirement from his own career. I came across a passport of my father-in-laws, he looked oh so young in it, maybe a picture from him in his 20s. Tucked in the back of that passport I found Martha's business card. The business card with her very first business address - her mother's house, on it with her phone number hand-written upon it.
I will now have to tease my father-in-law that he kept the business card of his future wife all of these years. I know she speaks of meeting her husband-to-be and talking about her business and he was "the first man" who actually expressed interest in what she made and what she sold. I will bet she gave him her business card with her phone number on it. She lived in Boston at the time and he lived in Chicago so the handwriting even shows the area code. I may be wrong in my theory, but even so, I think it is the sweetest thing he kept her original business card.