Tattersall’s Clothing: A fixture on Merchants Row
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
Jenn Pattillo, store manager of Tattersall's Clothing & Accessories in Downtown Rutland, holds up an alpaca wool sweater for sale recently.
Named after its founder, Christine Tattersall, Tattersall’s Clothing & Accessories has been a mainstay on Rutland’s Merchants Row since 1995. Here, Christine shares some “funktional” facts about her almost 20-year old business.
What is the nature of your business?
We sell fun, occasionally funky and always “funktional” casual clothing for women and for men. Our accessory line is extensive, and is made up of local and USA cottage industry-made accessories. The spelling of funktional is not a mistake. We have used it for many years in our advertising tag line, which is Fun. Funky. Funktional.
How/why did the company begin? What was the inspiration, the story behind its beginning?
My husband and I were seeking major changes in our careers, and we had a desire to create our own business, using the experience and skills gained during 25 years in corporate life. My husband, Bill Walters, spent 25 years with Saab working in the areas of product development and business planning, and I had worked for Yale University as a business manager for some 20 years. After Yale, I worked for many years as the store manager for a store in Madison, Conn., that catered to runners.
Since we already owned a summer home in Houghtonville, Vt., (just outside of Grafton) it was a perfect match for two folks looking for new opportunities.
It also provided me with an opportunity to become involved with the local community in a way similar to the way I was involved in the Madison community. I volunteer for many organizations, am on the board of the Vermont Retail and Grocers Association, and was on the Rutland Region Workforce Investment Board. I am also an avid runner and a supporter of many outdoor recreational programs.
How did you get to where you are today with the business?
The short answer, and all too often a cliché, is that we got to where we are today through sheer hard work, long hours, and persistent determination to succeed. The truth is that we got to where we are today through the guidance and enthusiasm of Jenn Pattillo, our locally-grown store manager and buyer, whose smarts have taken us down the right path. Jenn has been with us some 18 years now, and we could not have a more valuable employee.
What makes Tattersall’s unique?
We carry easy-to-maintain travel wear, natural fibers such as alpaca, and organic fabrics such as soft and rugged merino wool. Much of our clothing is made in the USA, or is ethically manufactured clothing, and we also carry petite items. Our accessory lines account for a major portion of our sales, and are continually expanding. In short, we are able to outfit our customers from “toes to head,” and at prices that will not break the bank.
On the advice of friends in Connecticut that Rutland would be a good place to open a clothing store, we moved full time to our summer home. We also had simply fallen in love with Vermont from the very first time we visited here in 1969, so our decision to come here was a no-brainer.
This was reinforced by the tremendous help we received from various organizations in Rutland, which included help in finding our location on Merchants Row, to help in securing a start-up loan, as well as much-needed advice on running a business in Rutland. We could never have gotten off the ground without this support.
As a business owner, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned?
We believe the lesson is fairly simple: Listen carefully to your staff, keep them interested in the business, involve them in decisions, and keep them challenged.
96 Merchants Row, Downtown Rutland
(802) 773-5007; info@TattersallsClothing.com; TattersallsClothing.com
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.– 6 p.m.
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Joanna Tebbs Young is a writer and writing workshop facilitator who lives in Rutland. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org, wisdomwithinink.com, facebook.com/TheWritersRoomatAllenHouse or on Twitter at @jtebbsyoung.