Teri Ann’s is a lavish women’s retailer located in the heart of downtown Marietta. It’s made downtown their home going on 55 years! Wow! What an accomplishment; especially for a small business in a quaint, little town. Clutch MOV was able to sit down with Teri Ann Zide and hear her view on what it takes to be a successful small business owner. Many, like myself have heard about Teri Ann and what an accomplished story she has. But, I had not actually heard it in its entirety and was lucky enough to hear it from Teri Ann herself.
In 1961 Teri Ann’s parents, George and Virginia Zide along with her grandmother, Marie Zide and aunt, Helen Zide Thomas opened Teri Ann’s. They named it after George and Virginia’s oldest child. In 1972, George passed away and 9 months later Virginia followed. At the tender age of sixteen, Teri Ann was faced with taking care of her three siblings and providing for them just as her parents would. It took blind faith to get her through the early years and they took every day one day at a time.
Teri Ann would go to school, then work at the store for the remainder of the day. Closing Teri Ann’s was never an option for her and her siblings. They felt they had no choice; it was an income for them and it was what their parents had built. Now, here she is forty-three years later still running and operating her family’s business. When asked if she had a significant moment when she realized Teri Ann’s was “her destiny,” she didn’t have a specific time but remembered a precious moment. When a full-time career woman walked in and wanted to work at her store, it puzzled Teri Ann because this woman had a full-time job with benefits. It was revealed during this interaction that this woman hated what she did for a living. It was in that moment when Teri Ann realized how truly blessed she was to love her job.
Loving your job doesn’t mean there won’t be any struggles or challenges. Teri Ann is always learning new things and listening to others when they have suggestions. When big box retailers were moving into the area a meeting was held in the community about the effects it would have on downtown areas. It was right then and there that Teri Ann and one of her colleagues developed a game-plan on a bar napkin and she decided they were going to up their game. They weren’t going anywhere and they were going to stand out from the rest; be different and special. These big box retailers were moderately priced and so was Teri Ann along with a lot of other businesses. Some of Teri Ann’s changes included increasing the quality and the price points of her merchandise. Some of the neighboring businesses that remained the same couldn’t keep up with the big box retailers price points and had to close.
According to Teri Ann, “it takes guts, hard work and commitment to run a business.” The other thing it takes is to “really make your customer happy. There is no other person more important than your customer.” Their philosophy is to think about how you want to be treated. “We’re not for everybody, we’re not the most expensive place in the world but we’re not the cheapest either and I’m not ashamed of that. It’s not about just making a big sale. I don’t want to sell you something just to sell you something. I want you to want to come back and tell your friends.” She has sales often, just like the one going on now; 20% off the entire store for celebrating her 55 years in business. When she goes to market she shops with clients in mind, she never buys anything she can’t envision on somebody that walks in her store. These are just a few things that make Teri Ann’s what it is today.
“It’s not just my story it’s OUR story. I’m in charge of this place. I don’t do 100% of the work, but I’m responsible for 100% of the work. I have a team that is awesome and a team that cares. That’s how this place works; it works because each of them and because the team is lead in the right direction. I’m fortunate to have a good team and fortunate to have good customers.” Teri Ann loves her customers and team. She’s grateful to have her sisters and partners; Shelly Medley and Missy Deskins along with the rest of her staff, Tammy Wilson for almost 30 years, Gimi Sell close to 20 years and Amy Brockett.
Downtown Marietta has shifted over the years; at one time Putnam Street was the place to shop and now Front Street. Teri Ann hopes to see businesses fill all around Front, Putnam and 2nd Street and believes that now that The Peoples Bank Theater is opened, it brings even more opportunity to bring in more businesses.
Next time you’re in Marietta and you want to have a memorable experience, stop in Teri Ann’s and the rest of the downtown shops. Shop local!