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Community Profiles: Gerry Miles
By John Kipp, Communications Director for the PBP Community Association
It’s a busy Wednesday morning at the Margareta Design store when I arrive to interview its owner, Gerry Miles. Gerry has have been a fixture at the Glenmore Landing Shopping Centre since she opened her doors 31 years ago. Elegantly dressed in an all black outfit, Gerry greets me while keeping an eye on the three ladies that are shopping in her store. “Why don’t we sit here,” she says pointing to the two wicker chairs in the middle of the store, “that way I can be available should the ladies need help.” It’s been a long and slow two years for Margareta Design and Gerry’s excited that her customers are beginning to shop again and explore her new fashion lines. She offers me a Nespresso and we begin by talking about the past year.
“I was so happy when the road construction at 90th and 14th street was completed in early 2020” says Gerry, “because our customers had a new road to come and visit.” But the onset of COVID-19 shortly after construction hit the business hard. At first, non-essential retail was shuttered and then when restrictions were relaxed, many women were not buying clothes to wear either socially or professionally. “The clothes they were shopping for were more for comfort at home” quips Gerry, “It’s a good thing I didn’t load up on ball gowns before the pandemic hit!” Once traffic to the store disappeared, Gerry took up the slack by staying in touch with her customers via email promotions and offering home delivery. “My customers rely on me to help them to look their best” says Gerry, “and I want to make sure that they leave here with quality garments and accessories—and that they look good—even if its just shopping at Safeway. Plus, I got to visit parts of Calgary I had bever seen before!”
One of the customers in the store is looking through the long sales rack near the change rooms that has a sign advertising 70% off. In fact, there’s not an inch to spare on the sales rack. Every space is taken up by hangers and garments. “I would be bored silly if I had to keep last year’s merchandise on hand,” remarks Gerry. “It’s important to me that what I buy for my customers is on trend, good quality, and can be combined with other separates to expand their wardrobe.” And that’s exactly what Gerry looks for when she packs up for her buying trips and turns the store over to her longest associate, Ina Boreham. “Twice a year, I will travel to Vancouver, Montreal, and New York to purchase next season’s line-up,” says Gerry. “I always try and support Canadian designers but I also LOVE spending time in Manhattan and hanging out with my cousins who live nearby.” Despite her love affair with NYC, Gerry’s always happy to return to Glenmore Landing and review her discoveries with Ina, who also has a keen fashion sense and an eye for value.
When asked why she chose to locate the store at the Glenmore landing in the first place, Gerry has a ready answer: “At the time, Glenmore Landing was THE location for quality fashion in Calgary – long before stores like Holt’s and Nordstrom’s arrived.” Today, she serves mainly the women who live in the neighbouring communities and she and Ina have built many friendships over the years. “Frankly, we care about how the women of PBP look and want to continue supporting them,” states Gerry. She is very grateful for their loyalty and confidence in her fashion advice and still “lights up” when a familiar face enters her store.
A return to normalcy is not the only thing Gerry is grateful for. Both of her children, Jamie and Casey, have returned to Calgary with their children and Gerry couldn’t be happier or prouder. “I love spending time with them,” says Gerry who still puts in six full days a week at Margareta. “I’m hoping that business picks up a little so that I can re-hire some of the staff I had to layoff last year.” Though not lacking in energy, Gerry would like to work a little less so that she can spend more time with her family – including those cousins in New York City!