Saturday, November 27, 2021

Retail Dreams and Leaps of Faith



C13-CBN-10-17-14-3Lee Ann Adams knows retail. She managed stores for Chico’s, and spent 15 years with Fresh Produce Sportswear working in a variety of roles from store manager to overseeing the Caribbean accounts and district manager.

Then, she turned 50, and took a leap of faith. She opened her own store, Beach Daisy, in June 2011. The women’s island style boutique features many “made in the USA” labels, and her tag line is “effortless lifestyle clothing.” Some of her lines include Spirit football jerseys, Michael Stars, Sympli the Best, Tribal, Jude Connally, Slimsations, Johnny Was, XCVI, Jams World, Magdelana, Eileen Fisher, Inizio Italian Linen, Ivy Jane, Hobo Bags, Baggallini handbags, Coobie Bras, , Mystique sandals, Suzanne DiMarco local jewelry artist and Chris Bales local silver jewelry artist.

“I decided to try it for myself,” says Adams. “Every store I managed surpassed numbers and goals, and I was rookie of the year for Chico’s.” Today, she also owns a second store in Sanibel called Simply Boutique.

She found her inspiration in three mentors: her mother Marty Mitchell, Helene Gralnick of Chico’s



and Scott Brogan with Fresh Produce Sportswear. Adams’ mother story gave her the courage to go out on her own and open the business. “My mother was an art teacher in Collier County, and then started her own arts and crafts gallery in the 1980s in Naples and Bonita Springs that I worked also. She had a business for 20 years.”

On the retail front, “Helene told me I had a PhD in retail, and Scott told me I was working beneath my talents,” Adams remembers. Helene told her “to buy beautiful” and to carry her own line, while Scott’s wisdom focused on the numbers and retail strategies.

C13-CBN-10-17-14-2Even so, when Adams opened Beach Daisy, she faced some challenges. First, she launched the shop during a recession. She started the store with her savings and a small loan from a dear friend. Second, she was flying solo in the shop. “When I opened, it was just me from open to close,” she explains. “My husband would come after work and help. Later, I also had my daughter and



son help in the store. My son had a rare disease, Hunter’s Syndrome, and he helped cover weekends and evenings. He passed away last October and is greatly missed in the store.”

The hard work and family perseverance certainly has paid off. “We have had nice increases every year. We overcame the obstacles by providing quality product and great customer service. My former manager that worked with me at Chico’s and Fresh Produce, Julie Durdak is running the Sanibel store and overseeing Marco store also. She is talented in the areas I am weak in, so we work well together. We have a genuine, honest sales staff,” she says.

Adams’ advice to women looking to start their own businesses: “Go for it! Do your homework and learn all you can from your mentors. Ask successful people how they started and for any advice they have for you…Take care of the good people that work for you. Listen to their ideas, and implement the good ones into your business. Pay bonuses when you can to your employees. Hire great people, and don’t hang on to the duds. They can bring staff and numbers down quickly.”

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