Margaret has been helping women find the right kind of support for decades. We chat to her about what it takes to build a successful business.
You’ve been looking after women in the local area for a number of years. Just how long have you been in business – and can you tell us how it all began?
I opened Margaret’s Underfashions on the 5th July 1993 and have been in business for 26 years. I had worked in ladies’ retail at a department store before it closed for many years before and had a sound knowledge of retail.
What inspired you to open up a lingerie store in Taree?
I know the underwear trade well from my previous working experience, so I decided to take the plunge and opened my shop selling underwear, sleepwear, hosiery, umbrellas, jewellery and scarves in Pulteney Street Arcade. Originally it was a smaller premises, with just myself and one other staff member; however, after three short years the business grew and we moved to a bigger shop, still situated in the arcade.
When it comes to underwear, where do many women get it wrong, and what kind of customer service do you offer?
Unbelievably, 80% of women wear the wrong bra if they are not fitted properly. My staff and I are all trained fitters, so you’re guaranteed we’ll find the right bra size to fit your shape. Lots of women don’t realise you can buy a smaller bra, but with a big cup. We stock A to G cups, and even bigger. We do special orders if we don’t have exactly what you need, and we also offer a prothesis fitting service, but you need to make an appointment.
Can you tell us a bit about the brands you have available?
We stock all the major brands, in a variety of styles, tastes, fabrics and shapes. Sleepwear brands include Givoni, Shrank, French Country, Magnolia Lounge and Oriental. Our best bra brands are Berlei, Triumph, Playtex, Fayeform, Bendon and Jockey underwear. We have a new range of Ambra and also stock slips and camisoles for wearing all year. We have such a range in store, there’s bound to be something that suits.
What’s your secret to running a successful business?
Offering outstanding personal service is incredibly important, especially these days where we are often left to our own devices, wondering a store or shopping aimlessly on the internet. I think many stores in the past have under valued customer service; however, there now seems to be a trend towards it, especially in major department stores.
We pride ourselves on helping our customers make informed decisions and purchases. Lots of customers need help, and we love to give them special attention. I also believe that offering good quality product, at a reasonable price, is also key. Customers want to feel that they have gotten value for their money.
What differentiates your store from the competition?
Wonderful staff. I think they play an intricate part to any successful business. They carry the load when I’m away and make sure my customers are fully taken care of. In addition, I like to be able to offer promotions and specials when I can. We can’t be a SALE shop, but when the bigger firms and brands offer promotions, I pass them on.
You run an annual Fashion Parade event each year with Quota International. Will this be happening in 2019, and what can we expect?
Quota ladies do a great job, and I’m delighted to help out with the parade once a year. I believe in supporting the local community and helping where I can.
How can we find out more information?
We do not sell online, as we encourage our customers to come in and get fitted properly. By doing this, we can guarantee that you purchase the right bra for your body shape. We do, however, have a Facebook page; check it out for updates and promotions.
Interview: Bronwyn Davis.