It’s been 26 years since Julie Mazur opened Rambling Rose, her women’s clothing and accessories boutique on Main Street in New Paltz. Now she’s ready for a new challenge, and the shop will close its doors at month’s end. Truth be told, so much of the remaining merchandise has already flown off the racks since Mazur announced her plans, the closing might come even sooner.
Rambling Rose clientele, who have come to rely on the shop owner’s expertise in fashion, may be surprised to learn that Mazur is going into real estate sales. As one of her longtime customers put it so succinctly, she will be going “from dresses to addresses,” already studying for her real estate license with a place waiting for her at Gardiner’s Colucci Shand Realty.
The opportunity to make this career change found her. Mazur had thought about closing up shop for a while, she says, but hadn’t taken any concrete steps to do so until last month, when she realized she didn’t have the enthusiasm anymore for bringing in the fall merchandise. “I still had the passion for working with my ladies, but not for the rest of it. And I thought, ‘It’s time to go.’”
In considering the feasibility of selling the store, she consulted with Teresa Colucci Shand, a longtime customer and friend who also happens to be a realtor with her own business. “I value her opinion, so I went to talk with her. And she said, ‘Have you ever thought about going into real estate?’”
Mazur hadn’t. And on the face of it, running a clothing boutique seems a different matter altogether than selling properties. But with Shand offering to mentor her, it seemed to be an intriguing possibility, and Mazur shadowed the experienced realtor recently on a few days at work to see what it was all about. She found herself pleasantly surprised that the work was very similar, in some ways, to what she’d been doing for years at Rambling Rose.
Staging a home for a photographer’s lens was much like the visual merchandising she’s always done at the shop. And a day spent showing potential buyers a number of homes was really just about listening to them, she says, just as it is when she’s working with “her ladies,” as Mazur affectionately refers to her boutique customers.
“I’ve always loved working one-on-one with people. And dressing people is really about listening and knowing how to bring it all together, helping them to feel good about themselves. This work is still very personal, and also about listening to people. Showing the homes, it was, ‘What did they like, what didn’t they like, and what did they need?’ So I came home from shadowing Terri feeling that ‘this is totally my skill set, just with a different inventory.’ And I don’t have to buy this inventory!”
The decision to go for this new challenge was made easier by having known Shand for 26 years, Mazur says. “So I feel very comfortable with her, and I know she’s honest and ethical. And her real estate company is really established in the community, so it’s not some fly-by-night business. She volunteered to mentor me, and has been so generous with her time. I feel good about it just by knowing her, and the fact that she has faith in me.”
One thing Mazur said she hadn’t anticipated in closing the shop was how emotionally draining it would turn out to be. “Once we sent out the announcement, I’ve been totally overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support and affection. People have brought me gifts, and written cards; they’ve posted on Facebook, and emailed us, and come into the store. And I hadn’t anticipated what a really hard thing that would be. I went home one night and told my daughter, ‘I’m emotionally exhausted,’ and I can tell you, I’ve never said those words before!”
But hard as it’s been to say goodbye, it’s also been very gratifying. “To know I’ve been able to make that kind of impression on the community and contribute really means a lot to me. Because that’s what life is about, right? Contributing, and to give a service to other people, you know. And I’ve been very fortunate to do that and be able to love what I was doing.”
Mazur says she doesn’t want to lose touch with these customers who have also been friends. “I’ve known some of these people for 26 years, since I opened the shop. I met some of them when their children were babies, and those babies are now in college. It’s gone so quickly. And it really has been a fabulous 26 years. I do want people to know how much I’ve appreciated having their business over the years, and how dear these people are to me.”