Everything must go: Dorothy is bowing out with a fashion show and a sale.
One of Warkworth’s longest-running and best-known shops is closing at the end of the year after 34 years in business.
Dorothy Goudie, who founded Dorothy’s Fashions in 1982, has decided not to renew the lease on her Neville Street boutique and is retiring at the age of 78.
The mother of two fell into fashion retailing almost by accident, after a friend heard of a business up for sale and told her to go for it.
“I was working out at Matakana for Roke and Smith Hardware,” she says. “I said ‘I don’t want a clothing business’ and she said, ‘Yes, you do!’ Without her, it wouldn’t have happened. I was casting around for something else to do, and it all just fell into place from there; it just felt right.”
Dorothy had done a diploma course in dressmaking and design, so right from the start made alterations a key part of her business, though she struggled for space in the early days. Her original shop was a small wooden ex-garage next to Warkworth Vets in Neville Street where Countdown now stands. In 1987, the owners of the new Lawlink House down the road offered Dorothy a shop tenancy there.
“I said ‘No, there’s no way, it’s just far too big’.” But after being given incentives, including a rent holiday and some fixtures and fittings, Dorothy moved into the shop and she has been there ever since.
Inevitably, she has seen a lot of changes in her time, not only in Warkworth itself, but in the clothes that her 40-plus clientele are wearing.
“When I started, it was all dresses, skirts and blouses – not even tops, just blouses. There weren’t a lot of slacks, women didn’t wear pants much then. I think I was in my fifties before I had my first pair of jeans – my children were so shocked!
“Now 80 per cent of business is pants, cropped pants and jeans.”
Many of the 1600 customers she has on her mailing list come from as far afield as Auckland and Northland, because of a general lack of clothing stores for older women.
“My customers tell me that I can’t retire until they don’t need clothes any more!
“I can understand their problems … they say if you go to one mall, you’ve been to them all, the shops there don’t cater for older ladies, and there’s no one to help you if you do find something.”
Customers will still have plenty of opportunities to stock up before the shop closes in January, with new winter stock arriving now, a fashion show on May 17 (see panel above) and a massive closing down sale starting in August.
Dorothy, who was chairman of the Warkworth Area Business Association in the 1980s, says she has really enjoyed being at the heart of the local business community and will miss seeing “all the lovely people”, but feels ready for a quieter life now.
“I learned to fly in the past and got my private pilot’s licence years ago, but these days I play bowls and just like to keep fit,” she says. “Once the shop has closed, I’m going to relax for a bit, and just let whatever happens happen.”
Final fashion show
For well over 20 years, Dorothy’s has teamed up with the Lions Club of Kowhai Coast to run charity fashion shows in aid of Warkworth & Wellsford Hospice. The last ever such event will take place on Tuesday May 17 at 7pm at Bowls Warkworth, with a special ‘Tribute to Dorothy’ Fashion Parade. Lions Club members will model new winter fashions, then the last ever model will be Dorothy herself. Tickets cost $15, which includes supper and a 20 per cent discount.