HOME FREE: After 40 years of running a buying office, Marsha Posner is ready to pass the baton to her business partner Jennifer Hibshman.
Posner, who divides her time between Del Ray and Boca Raton, Fla., said Thursday that she wanted to exit the company while her clients were still asking her to stay, rather than run the risk of being told she stayed too long. Recent retail consolidation also played into her decision.
She noted two key of her accounts, Saks Jandel in Chevy Chase, Md., and Red Garter in Pikesville, Md., plan to close. Another, Margaret Rice in Grosse Pointe Farms, Mich., has already done so. But those closings were due more to the normal progression of life than consumers’ changing shopping habits, she said. “Their customers were getting older and they don’t shop as much as they used to. They weren’t getting new clients coming in,” Posner said. “The owner of Saks Jandel’s children didn’t want to take over the business.”
The rise of e-commerce hasn’t affected her retail clients to the degree that it has in other sectors, said Posner, who catered to 50 international retailers at one time. Naeem Khan and Zang Toi are two of the designers she has worked with for decades. “In my end of the business, designer shoppers still want to go into stores, to take a look, feel the clothing and try things on,” citing B. Barnett in Little Rock, Ark., and the Lake Forest Shop in Lake Forest, Ill. As boutiques with loyal followings.
Hibshman started working with Posner 15 years ago as an intern, then as an assistant before becoming a co-owner three years ago. Posner said she has been commuting to their Seventh Avenue office from Florida, after selling her Central Park West apartment a few years ago. That decision was made after a neighbor knocked on her door unexpectedly and offered to buy her abode. “I’m spending a lot of time at the beach,” she said. “I want to play more tennis and read more.”
As much as she hates to bid adieu to her clients and industry friends, Posner said, “This business is the kind that, unless you have passion for it, you’re not going to be good at it anymore.”
“It used to be that any magazine that I opened was a fashion one and all my conversations were about fashion. I would go to a wedding and just look to see what everybody was wearing,” she said. “That’s been changing over time. We need new fresh blood to take over.”
Many clients have asked if they can still call her and Posner said she has told them “of course.” “My clients are really like an extended family. I think a lot of those types of relationships have been lost in the industry. People don’t have the relationships they once had,” she said.