That’s how it is when Larry and Tenza May go off to work in their retail shop at 913 Noble St., maintaining lines of items that, while dissimilar by themselves, blend nicely to attract an overall segment of customers.
They’re customers who like their music recorded on discs and their clothes made from denim, so the Mays’ business name is appropriate: CD Cellar/Wish Boutique.
There’s other merchandise, too, of course, including vinyl records, purses and jewelry. But one reason the local couple moved their business last fall from Lenlock — where the music portion had been featured since 1997 — was to give Tenza May a better location from which to sell formal gowns. An entire back room and dressing area in the handsomely renovated store is now devoted to them.
The expanded product line has brought in new customers.
“We’ve seen girls in high school we’ve never seen before,” said Larry May.
A typical day for the couple, who’ve been married 20 years, includes a little of everything that keeps a business going. They used to employ five, but with the coming of leaner times, it’s down to the two of them.
Larry May’s workday typically fills 10 hours, he said. Ordering stock is a key responsibility, since, as he noted, “you can’t sell from an empty cart.”
Appealing to a wide demographic range, the music he sells covers all genres and all modern eras of rock and pop. There’s Billy Joel and Justin Bieber, jazz and urban selections. And all those big ol’ vinyl albums? They’re a favorite of the younger buyer.
“Kids like vinyl,” Larry May said, referring to the teen-through-college age range. The albums themselves, he said, have “a lot more going on as a piece of art.”
The task of keeping those record and CD racks filled is relatively easy for May — he has a longtime network of suppliers built up, and trades are accepted — compared to the boutique items his wife sells. Those have to be, he said, “fresh and trendy and fit our customer base.”
The challenge now in a new location, he said, is “to keep the music (as the) focus and add items that make us money down the road.”
That inventory includes the formal gowns his wife sells — an attraction to the young ladies of the area. May concedes that’s not his area of expertise.
“I have no place back there with a bunch of 14-year-old girls,” he said with a smile, referring to where his wife was busy helping customers. “I think it’s better for both of us if I just stay up here.”
Otherwise, the couple’s routine has been honed by time. On a typical day, he might be straightening up the merchandise on the sales floor while she’s in the back writing checks to pay bills.
“We’ve both worked retail so long we’re used to it,” said May.
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