Sale surprised both

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 23, 2010

When Daphne Posey agreed to be a Town and Country “temp” last fall, she had no idea she’d end up buying the business from Pat Thompson.

Both say it was a “random” thing, but agree that after the details fell into place, the whole thing was “meant to be.”

Posey is a science teacher by training who had been waiting for a teaching position to open here since moving home to Alabama from South Carolina.

When she was asked to “fill in” at Town and Country while Thompson was out of town, she enjoyed it. When someone else was out, she helped out again and had the opportunity to work with Thompson, the second-generation owner of the women’s apparel store on South Three Notch Street.

And one day she made the “random” comment to Thompson’s son, John, “Why don’t y’all just sell it to me?”

She’s still not sure she was serious when she said it.

“It was a random thing,” she said. “I think I was in the right place at the right time for a reason. I didn’t question it. I’m just trusting it and going with it.”

Thompson, who will remain at Town and Country, said the sale was bittersweet. Her mother, Merle Barrow Jones, started the store in late 1951 and it was her life.

“She loved it better than anything,” Thompson said of her mother, who went in to business at a time when few women did. Thompson worked some with her mother through the years, but didn’t join her full time until the 1980s.

The original store was located in what is now the O’Neal building. Thompson said her mother moved to the present location, formerly Foreman’s Funeral Home, when that business moved to the bypass in 1965.

“She called me one day to come look at something,” Thompson recalled. “When she brought me here, I thought she had truly lost her mind.

“She had been in a smaller space on the square,” Thompson said. “They decided to buy this property and it just worked.”

In the 4,000 square foot building, she said, her mother was able to add more to the store.

Thompson said it took her a while to come around to the idea of selling. But so far, she and the new owner are making the decision work.

“It will change because I’m here,” Posey said. “But a lot of things in the store have worked for almost 60 years. That’s a really long time and I don’t want to change those things.”

Posey said she feels fortunate to have Thompson remaining on the Town and Country team.

“It’s a huge advantage that she’s staying,” Posey said.

The pair went to market together in Atlanta in the fall. Posey said she quickly learned how personalized Thompson’s service is for her customers.

“It was like having a little Jiminy Cricket with me,” Posey said, adding that Thompson knows her customers so well, she can pick out items she knows they’ll like, and order special sizes for them.

“She kept notes, and when she came home, she called customers to let them know what she’d found,” Posey said. “It was great.”

In addition to women’s apparel, Town and Country has shoes, girls dance apparel and shoes, gifts, and wedding apparel. The store has an Estee Lauder franchise – almost unheard of in a small town. They also order tuxedos for special occasions.

Posey said she will introduce some new lines to Town and Country’s customers. Spring apparel is being shipped to the store now and is being displayed as it’s inventoried.