(By Nan Napier, Published in El Paso Inc., 10.23.2107)
They say that all good things must come to an end. Now Tres Mariposas, the store that has been such a part of my life and the lives of so many women here, is closing its doors after 47 years.
We are going out of business just one year shy of my own 40th anniversary at the store. But today’s dramatic changes in retailing, coupled with my desire to spend more time with my children, grandchildren and sisters, made this seem like a good time for a change.
It has been such a joy to be part of El Paso’s fashion scene and our local retail environment. Ever since I was a naive 24-year-old accounting graduate in 1978, I have enjoyed the chance to run a business built on customer service and quality. I loved seeing the company evolve, whether it was creating a Nicole Miller store inside Tres Mariposas in the 1990s or developing a fine jewelry department during this decade. We weren’t afraid of innovation in our business model, our floor plan or the designers we carried.
Having the privilege of helping women from El Paso, Juárez and throughout the region find their perfect outfits has been an honor. Special occasion dresses from Tres Mariposas have been part of so many weddings and other milestone family events. Presents from our store have made so many women happy – and that has made our staff happy beyond words.
Since we started our “everything must go” sale on Tuesday, hundreds of wonderful customers, both longtime and new, have come in to shop and talk about what the store has meant to them. For instance, it was great to hear longtime customer Sharon Kidd say that Tres Mariposas was “what kept us from having to shop out of town for so many years.”
It was good to see my friend Melissa O’Rourke drop by. She’s the owner of Charlotte’s Fine Furniture, another longtime store on Mesa Street that is closing. In August, Melissa launched their own final sale at the store that her mother founded 66 years ago. The times are changing, we all know.
Like our namesake butterfly, during the first three sale days, I felt like I was flitting between customers, clothing racks and cash registers – flying here and there just to try to keep up. Business owners who have closed companies probably understand the mix of emotions that come over you.
When I finally took a breath to look around, I thought about how great it was to see so many old and new friends in one place. I loved seeing friends visiting with one another. It was so exciting and rewarding to see that Tres served as their gathering place. Our vision has always included an environment where women – and the men who buy gifts for them – can enjoy relaxing and socializing, sometimes with a bottle of water, glass of wine, cookie or snack.
Even when shoppers came up to me to express their surprise and regret that Tres Mariposas was closing, their stories and their enthusiasm about the clothes and jewelry they’ve bought over the years were so gratifying. Of course, I know where some of that positive energy was coming from. There’s nothing like a good bargain to raise any woman’s spirit!