CIRCLEVILLE — Despite the challenges of the last 18-plus months, Maggie and Me is still going strong having recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
Rebecca Mancini, owner, shared some of the struggles of the store during that time, but also highlighted some of the great things over the last 20 years, including her new second store that she started in South Carolina.
“I’m happy that we’ve survived COVID-19 and the shutdowns, it was quite a struggle to get through the pandemic,” Mancini said. “We’re still working everyday to stay on top.”
Maggie and Me opened on Aug. 6, 2001 and from the get-go, Mancini said they took the challenges head on as they came.
“We kept it simple and stayed true to customer service and listening to what our customers wanted,” she said.
“We started with a mom and young daughter setup and instantly, girls wanted prom and homecoming stuff, so that’s what we became. People would drive up to two hours to come to Maggie and Me because we met that niche. Then we developed infant and toddler and our junior room, which we call young contemporary because I had a lot of high school and college girls who went buying with me.”
The name ‘Maggie and Me’ comes from Mancini’s daughter. Her son, Jake, who was a year old when the store started has since asked where he fit in.
“I was just coming up with something for women and little girls, so Maggie and Me came and it just stuck,” Mancini said. “My son is getting ready to graduate in marketing and entrepreneurship. He always used to ask about him and where he fit and I’d tell him he’s the ‘me’. Maggie’s in the healthcare field, but Jake may end up being my right-hand man some day. We’ll see how that goes.”
Flash forward some 18 years and the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdowns closed many storefronts. Mancini said they did a lot of things to survive and she’s grateful to her customers who did what they could.
“I left after they closed our stores,” Mancini said. “I left to travel and keep my head straight because I wasn’t used to not working. I did what I could with our door closed and some customers were amazing in shopping how they could. We did anything we could think of to keep us alive. We sold gift cards and had people shop online.”
The shutdown, which came in early March was in the midst of prom season, which caused a lot of stores around the country to go under.
“It all shut down during prom time and that killed a lot of stores,” she said. “Luckily, we weren’t just a prom store and there were other areas where we could sell.”
As a way to both stay busy and help keep the store open, Mancini opened her store in South Carolina to help prop up the business and keep things going.
“I opened a place to keep busy and also because I thought it might help save the store in Circleville,” she said. “It absolutely has. Between that and our clientele finding a way to support us either by coming in or by shopping at home, we’ve made it.”
However, things still haven’t picked up as they were pre-pandemic.
“We’ve done what homecoming, then prom, we could, but in a much smaller way than we have in the last 19 years,” she said. “We’re thankful to be there and be open.”
One thing Mancini said was a constant, even during and after the pandemic-related shutdowns, were the sheer number of hardworking women that she hired to be in her store, many of whom she is still in regular contact with today. Mancini said she learned that from fellow business owners at Sharffs and Christopher’s Boutique in Circleville.
“I’ve had the most amazing young women work at Maggie and Me during their high school years and I’ve watched them go on to college,” she said.
“They’d help me when they came home and many of them have blossomed into amazing businesswomen in many aspects. When people ask me what I like most about my business, I tell them that I love my customers, but right behind that is watching our workers grow into young successful businesswomen. They learn hard work, how to keep busy, how to get things done and how to multitask.”
On the front of their workforce, Mancini said the new management and staff at Maggie and Me in Circleville is all new.
“We have a brand new and amazing staff,” she said. “They’re a young group of marketing retailers and it’s a beautiful group of women. They’re totally carrying the weight of the store on their shoulders.”
Mancini said she plans to hang a banner on the store in the ally to thank customers for their support. They’re also going to be drawing prizes from their celebration event last week soon.
“We’ve really been celebrating all week,” she said. “We had a big party on the 25th. We’re going to put that banner up as a thank you to our customers for a great 20 years in Circleville.”