Ruth McManus, owner of Who’s Who clothing boutique, which will be closing its doors soon after 27 years, says the thing she’ll miss most is spending time with the loyal customers she’s come to think of as friends. (Staff Photo: Brad McEwen)
ALBANY — After nearly three decades providing sophisticated fashion options for women in Albany, clothing boutique, Who’s Who will soon be closing its doors.
Beginning today, everything in the store is on sale, including furniture and fixtures, as store owner Ruth McManus, prepares to close the store and begin a well-earned retirement.
“I think it’s just a good time,” said McManus. “I’ve loved doing this but there is a time for everything. This businesses has been really to good me.”
McManus, who purchased the store — then called M. Taylor’s — from Marsha Taylor in 1987, feels she’s been blessed to make a career in the clothing and fashion industry she’s loved since her youth, while also providing a service to her customers.
“Our main purpose was really not to see how much money we could make,” McManus said. “We really just wanted to help women feel better about themselves and know that we would find something that would make them look better and feel better and have more confidence.”
In working hard to provide quality clothing to her customers McManus says she was able to build relationships with those patron, something she feels she’ll miss most when the store closes.
“It’s a business where you become friends and your customers become like family,” said McManus. They come in and share what’s going on in their life. You really have a connection with your customers. We would go to market and when we were at market we would look something and say, ‘That looks like Joan, that looks like Sue, that looks like Carol.’ And when it came in, we would call them and say, ‘We saw this at market and thought it looked like you.’
“I have a lot of wonderful, loyal customers that I really feel badly about closing the store for, because they bought all of their clothes here.”
McManus said it has been the customers’ fierce loyalty to Who’s Who that has kept her going in recent years and that making the decision to close was difficult. For McManus, that loyalty was one of the key ingredients to the store’s success, along with the loyalty of her store manager, Teresa Maloof, who has worked for McManus for 25 years.
“I have a wonderful manager who has made it so easy for me,” McManus said. “She never wanted to take off or anything because she was afraid she would miss out on helping somebody with something. Teresa is just wonderful.”
Despite her mixed feelings about closing, McManus said she is ready to move on and persue other interests in her life as well, including spending more time with her three grandchildren who live in Huntsville, Ala.
She’s quick to point out, however, that her other interests don’t include spending her retirement playing golf or tennis every day, but rather getting into service work.
“I really want to serve others,” McManus said. “I have been taking courses on Christian counseling and I think I would like to get involved in that. I think God has something for me, so I’m just going to wait and see what it is.”
In the meantime, McManus says she will keep Who’s Who open as long as she needs to in order to get the entire inventory sold.
“It’s a total liquidation,” she said. “We’ll stay open until we sell everything — the furniture, the fixtures, everything.”
McManus also wants customers to know that unlike many stores that are going out of business, Who’s Who’s merchandise is current, featuring new spring fashions that arrived as recently as last week.
“We do have new spring,” McManus said. “People will be able to get great deals, getting those things at 20 percent off. We have clothing, purses, shoes, boots, jewelry, linens, from jeans to formal wear and lingerie.”
With the exception of today, when the store opens at 8 a.m., McManus will keep the store’s regular hours of operation, Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.
Who’s Who is located at 2206 Dawson Road, next to Porterfield United Methodist Church.