Carrie Rengers

Longtime Bradley Fair business to close; sale starts Thursday

A store that started as a home-based business for a couple of moms almost four decades ago and eventually grew into one of the oldest Bradley Fair tenants has now reached the end of its run.

Trio’s is closing.

“This is the end of our lease, which made it perfect,” Valerie Spikes says.

She and co-owner Joni Ferris say there has been much about their home decor and gift store that has been right from the start.

“This has just been a charmed business from day one,” Ferris says.

That’s even though she wasn’t an owner on the first day.

“Actually, Joni turned me down first, but I wouldn’t let her go,” Spikes says.

She named the store Trio’s because she is one of three sisters, though Spikes’ sisters were never part of the business.

Ferris says she can’t remember why she decided to join Spikes instead of continuing to decline her.

“I’m glad I didn’t because I’ve really enjoyed doing this.”

The two met in Junior League, which Spikes says helped with some of the skills they needed for the store.

She started the business in her home and then moved it to the Green Elephant Village near Central and Hillside.

“We worked while our children were in school, and then it got so big, and our families kind of said, ‘You need to find a location,’ ” Spikes says.

By then it was 1991, and Bradley Fair was just opening. Trio’s moved there and, in 2000, moved within the center to its current 3,500-square-foot spot.

“We’ve sustained ourselves because of our longevity,” Spikes says.

“It’s really our personalities of what’s in here,” Ferris says. “This is an unusual mix.”

She says there is everything from baby items, which they added when they became grandmothers, to high-end china.

“We have a huge following of people from out of town that come and just say, ‘Well, there’s just not stores like this anymore,’ ” Spikes says.

Years ago, they brought in silk flowers and artificial plants “just to make the displays look better, and suddenly everybody wanted what was in the containers,” Spikes says. “So that’s been wonderful. We’ve really enjoyed that part of the business.”

She and Ferris say the store does well, but as they look to retirement, they say they decided against selling the business for a number of reasons.

One reason is retail is changing significantly due to a more disposable society and one that, for some younger people, doesn’t even include dining room tables.

Also, Spikes says there are fewer American-made products, and some of the ones from overseas are slipping in quality.

Each of their seven children has worked at the store, but the timing wasn’t right for any of them to take it over, Spikes and Ferris say.

The store is closed now but will reopen at 10 a.m. on Thursday for the start of a going-out-of-business sale.

“We’re looking forward to this sale because we know we’re going to see all the people that we’ve seen for the last 37 years,” Ferris says.

She and Spikes say that saying goodbye to customers and employees, many of whom have been there for decades, is the hardest part of closing.

“It’s a very emotional thing,” Ferris says. “Our staff is like our family.”

Spikes says, “I have to say, we’ve cried a lot.”

They say they’re looking forward to spending time with their grandchildren, volunteering, joining some groups and not having a schedule.

First, though, they have a lot to sell.

The store is jam-packed with merchandise, and as they sell things, they’ll bring out more.

“We have a lot of one-of-a-kind things,” Spikes says.

They’re also selling the store’s fixtures.

Spikes says they don’t yet know when the last day in business will be.

“When it’s empty, we’ll close the doors.”

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Carrie Rengers has been a reporter for almost three decades, including 16 years at The Wichita Eagle. Her Have You Heard? column of business scoops runs five days a week in The Eagle. If you have a tip, please e-mail or tweet her or call 316-268-6340.
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