Suffolk clothing retailer Denison’s is closing after more than 60 years


Denison's in Suffolk

Customers have been sad to learn that Denison’s, a longtime women’s clothing store at the Suffolk Shopping Center, will close its doors for the last time on May 21.

Announcements of the closing, printed on brightly colored paper in the store’s windows, seem strangely out of place. Window and interior displays have always been attractively decorated for the seasons by store manager Cecelia Strickland.

“I’m so sorry the store is closing,” said patron Jane Sommers of Suffolk. “I’ve always bought my clothes at Denison’s, which is a nice, friendly place. Cecelia dressed me from head to toe. She coordinates everything for you.”

“I’m actually devastated,” said customer Phyllis Stoneburner, also of Suffolk. “I know that sounds like a strange thing to say, but it was rare that I ever purchased anything outside of Denison’s. Cecelia would keep her eye out for unique pieces of clothing that she knew I would like.

“It is truly the premier women’s clothing site for Suffolk.”

And the closing is hard for Denison’s owner, too.

“Our closing is a bittersweet thing,” said owner Kandy Lewis, who is Strickland’s sister. “We had a great business, but so many people are shopping online now, and it’s killing boutiques. I feel that the economy has guided our decision to close.”

Customers from Courtland, Franklin and eastern North Carolina also have depended on Denison’s for the perfect outfit for a wedding or special event, Strickland said. And more than once, a bus has brought residents from Westminster Canterbury in Virginia Beach to shop at the beloved store.

A visit to Denison’s has meant more to many women than just buying clothes. Customers could sink into a comfortable chair and stay as long as they liked. Often, homemade fudge and cookies were offered to patrons while they talked about children, grandchildren and life in general.

“We have become so attached to our customers,” Strickland said. “They are like family. Husbands often come in with their wives and patiently sit and wait for them to shop. And others would call me at Christmastime and ask me to choose an outfit as a gift for their wife.”

Since Strickland has managed it, the store has had only one major setback. On a Monday morning, she opened the door for business as usual and stepped into water. A city water pipe had burst. The carpet was replaced, damaged clothing was restocked and business was quickly back to normal.

“We lost coats – everything that touched the floor,” she said.

Some of Strickland’s lighter moments at the shop involved customer vanity.

Some customers, who are a size 18, would ask for a size 12, she said.

source”times of india”