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TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 22, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Hartselle clothing retailer goes against national trend

In an age when national chain retailers are increasingly driving locally owned stores out of the marketplace, Hartselle's Maison Morgan is a refreshing anomaly.

Mack Taylor has owned Maison Morgan for 34 years. And the 78-year-old merchant fully expects to celebrate the store's 50th anniversary.

How has the clothier survived the arrival of shopping malls and Wal-Mart Supercenters?

First, by finding a niche and developing a business plan that adapted to changing priorities. Mr. Taylor knew the younger set would gravitate to the malls, so he focused on a more mature market — those willing to forego the convenience of one-stop shopping in order to obtain special-order or custom-made merchandise.

But more importantly, Maison Morgan has survived because of excellent customer service. Mr. Taylor and the store's employees develop personal relationships with their customers. They are willing to do whatever it takes to not only keep their customers' business, but also to make them feel comfortable. They provide personal service that just isn't possible at a large retailer with thousands of customers every day.

"I don't want my customers to be a number," Mr. Taylor said.

That philosophy is refreshing — and successful — in today's increasingly hectic marketplace.

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