One of the goals of This is Retail NC is to share the stories of retail store owners/operators who have enjoyed successful careers in the retail industry. We first heard of the owners of the Monkee’s franchise when they participated in the first nationwide video contest that put the “This Is Retail” campaign on the map. A short time later as part of the statewide campaign we featured the VP of Sales and Operations Andrea Rice in the careers segment of This Is Retail NC. Now, they’re in the spotlight again as one of the NC Retail Merchants Association’s annual Retailers of the Year. We’ve shared their story below and think you’ll agree the founders of this retail franchise are not monkeying around!
Getting its start in 1995, the first Monkee’s store opened for business in Wilmington, North Carolina. Monkee’s originally began as a small shoe store, offering glamorous and upscale footwear to the fashion-deprived city of Wilmington. Heading the operations and management of this newly-budding business was former math and science teacher, DeeDee Shaw. Shaw had always dreamed of opening and operating her own boutique.
After a widely successful first couple of years, Brenda Maready, a loyal costumer and friend, convinced Shaw to expand the business and open a second location.
“It all started one day when I was shopping in Wilmington, and I heard about this fabulous shoe boutique named Monkee’s,” said Maready. “I found the store, walked in and fell in love. I loved the concept, loved the décor, and met DeeDee Shaw. We formed such a close relationship that we decided to move the business forward together.”
Opening the second location in Winston-Salem, the two ladies moved forward in their journey towards creating a prosperous retail franchise. The merchandise soon expanded from shoes to clothes to coveted designer brands. After experiencing great success in Winston-Salem, Shaw and Maready realized the growing potential of the store and opened 13 more locations. From Asheville to Greensboro, Monkee’s soon became a reputable boutique, offering a safe haven for fashion forward customers in North Carolina.
Today, Monkee’s has 25 locations, spreading across the southeast. Striving to provide customers with an intimate and exciting shopping experience, Monkee’s continues to expand and multiply across the southern region of the Unites States. With a powerful connection to their customers and an undying love for fashion, the sky is the limit for these two driven women who mean business.
Get To Know Monkee’s!
Q. What is your goal as a specialty retailer?
The goal of Monkee’s is to provide customers with a fun and intimate shopping experience. Shopping at Monkee’s is a personal experience for its customers, and this is something that founder DeeDee Shaw feels is the cornerstone of Monkee’s: “We want Monkee’s to feel like you are in your living room. You can come in your tennis clothes, or browse with a cup of coffee. Sit down and relax, chat with us, and share what is going on in your life.” Brenda Maready shares the same philosophy: “We never know how we might affect a lady shopping in our store so no matter what the occasion, we try to make her feel good and confident about herself and her purchase.”
Q. What does community mean to Monkee’s?
It means having a connection to our customers. We don’t just want to sell you a product, we want to have a connection to you and your life. If someone is having a hard time, we want to make her smile and give her a fantastic shopping experience to brighten her day. Forming these relationships allows our stores to have meaningful impacts on the lives of the women in their communities.
Q. What makes you proud to work for Monkee’s?
The best part about working for Monkee’s is the ability to fulfill the dreams of potential stores owners who want to own their own business. It is also immensely rewarding to work with a group of people who are as passionate about the Monkee’s brand as our store owners. You can feel their enthusiasm and passion, and can’t help but feel proud to be a part of this organization.
Q. Why are you a member of NCRMA?
As a franchisor headquartered in North Carolina, we consider ourselves lucky to be a part of the NC Retail Merchants Association, one of the strongest Retail Merchant Associations in the country. Being able to tap into the resources that they provide is a privilege that makes our entire organization stronger.
Reprinted from the July issue of The Retailer newsletter, a monthly publication of the NC Retail Merchants Association. Monkee’s is a 2015 NCRMA Retailer of the Year Awards recipient. The Retailer of the Year Awards is an annual recognition to celebrate retail excellence, from the smallest independent retailers to the largest chains across all sectors. Entries are reviewed by a selection committee consisting of retailers, retail educators, retired retail executives and suppliers to the retail industry. Businesses are evaluated according to their contributions to the state’s economy, their business innovations, as well as their impact on local communities.