“I started working at the age of 16 (1980) in a card store. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to own my own store one day… now when someone asks me how long has the store been in business, I proudly say 35 years.”
Liz Richmond, NSS attendee and owner of The Paperbag in Allentown, PA
I started working at the age of 16 (1980) in a card store. From that moment on, I knew that I wanted to own my own store one day. I graduated high school in 1982 and went to work full time in a clothing store (owned by the same couple who owned the card store). After meeting my boyfriend (now husband of 27 years) and decided I was going to go on to college. My parents wouldn’t let me go to school part time without working. So, I went looking for a job. I walked into The Paperbag in Allentown, PA (in the area where I lived, the store opened January 12, 1982) and asked the owner if she was hiring. She was! Was I in luck.
During my interview with her, she asked me why I wanted to work in a small card and stationery store. I told her “because one day I want to own my own store”. I was hired in July 1984 and was taught everything she knew to own and operate a retail store. She taught me to specialize in something and stick with it. Her phrase to me, that is still in my mind and often comes out of my mouth, was “you can’t be everything to everyone.” I married my boyfriend in September 1989 and in January 1990, I decided to go back and finish my college degree – in Retail and Marketing.
I left The Paperbag to work in large retail to try what it was like. Well, after 9 months, I walked back into The Paperbag and the owner asked me “how do you like it?” I said “I don’t like it and I’m ready to quit.” Her next statement to me was a dream: “I’m looking to sell in the next 2 years and you are the first person I would sell to.” I told her “I’ll give my notice tomorrow and start back here immediately”. Well, that’s just what I did. I left big retail and went back to The Paperbag and began working there with the intent of buying it in the future. Well, I had to finish school (graduated in 1996) and then I would buy the store (1997). We’ve had some trials and tribulations, but we’re still in business! Now when someone asks me how long has the store been in business, I proudly say “35 years”.