October is National Women’s Small Business Month. All month long we will be featuring local female business leaders to celebrate their success and contributions to the community. First up is Cora Shipley.
Shipley is the proud owner of three Old Town Clovis businesses – Ivy & Lace, Hearts Delight, and Scoops Soups & More. She also serves as president of the Business Organization of Old Town (B.O.O.T.). Her trio of businesses are all located in the same general area on the east side of Pollasky Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets. The first two are boutique stores that specialize in women’s apparel, accessories and gifts while the third is an ice cream shop that serves over 35 flavors of ice cream along with sandwiches, soups and salads.
Birthplace: northeast Louisiana
Education: McLane High School, Class of 1961
Hobbies/leisurely pursuits: “Nope. I’m working and that’s it. That’s my hobby. It’s not a job because I love my businesses. It’s fun and I enjoy doing it so that’s what I do.”
What got you into business?
“We opened our first business in 1990 and it was an antique store. We started off in antiques because we collected antiques at that time. My husband and I did some traveling back to Louisiana every year for family reunions so we would buy antiques and things. When it outgrew our house, we decided that we needed to open a business. Clovis was our home and we loved Old Town so we decided this is where we were going to open our business.”
What is your typical work day like?
“A lot of errands, a lot of running around. For the ice cream store, I go grocery shopping probably every day because we don’t have a lot of room for storage – and all of our things are fresh – so I go and do that. I just mainly check on the other two retail stores, I don’t work a shift anymore. My husband [Bill] passed away a year and a half ago. He ran the ice cream store and I ran my two boutiques. I didn’t have to do anything for the ice cream store except payroll. But, when he passed away I had to take that responsibility over from him. Then I gave up actually working in the retail stores so all I do now is order and just check on them. The ice cream store is my main pursuit right now.”
What is the key to being in business for so long?
“No. 1 is Old Town. It’s all about location, location, location. I’ve heard that all my life. When you go into business, be sure you know where you’re going and have checked the surrounding area. Like I said, we loved Clovis, we lived here, we shopped in Old Town so it was just natural that we opened first here – and the city has been so supportive the whole time that we have jumped around this town. Any place that we went to, they did anything they could to help us. It’s the cooperation between the city and the businesses in Old Town that has made this a success. It’s just easy to own a business here.”
What piece of advice would you give to a young entrepreneur looking to start a business?
“No. 1 – do something that you really enjoy. I think if you love your job, it’s not a job, it’s just something that you want to go do every single day. That’s the main thing – to know what you want in life and enjoy whatever you’re doing.”
Are you involved in any clubs or organizations?
“I joined B.O.O.T [Business Organization of Old Town] the very first month that we opened. I wanted to concentrate on Old Town and what directly affects my businesses, so I chose B.O.O.T. to get involved with, to get on the board of directors. I just wanted to see Old Town stay true to its roots, true to the Mayberry-type look that we try to keep going here. I’ve also been on the board of directors for the Clovis Hall of Fame for 10 years.”
What is your role with B.O.O.T.?
“I’m involved mostly with developing the different events that we do in Old Town. The only thing that B.O.O.T. did when I first joined was the Antiques Show and Farmers Market. Those were our two big events. As we evolved and got a little bit bigger, the umbrella of B.O.O.T. grew so much that we needed more events. So we brought in the Wine Walk, the Beer Crawl, the Glorious Junk Days show. I was on all of those committees. My goal is to promote Old Town, to expand our base, to bring more people to town.”
What makes Old Town different from any other shopping district?
“I think it’s the Clovis City Council and the city employees because it starts at the top. It’s their vision, their commitment to Old Town. In turn, it’s our commitment to Old Town and to them. But I think it starts with the support that we have from city officials and employees. We have a group of merchants that buy into Old Town and the feeling that we have down here. The atmosphere that we want to keep starts with the security because people can walk with a stroller and feel very comfortable. We have a lot of people that just love this town and we’re working really hard trying to maintain it and make it better.”
How do you see Old Town evolving in the next couple years?
“I think we’re just going to get better. I don’t know how much bigger we want to expand because we’re surrounded with homes and things like that. We got started at Centennial Plaza and there are certainly little areas that we could still expand to and bring in a few more small businesses and restaurants. The nightlife down here when I first started, there was a saying that they rolled the sidewalks up at 6 o’clock. They absolutely did that other than Clovis Avenue where the bars were. I come down at night to close my stores and now I see cars on the street, people walking. The atmosphere is going to continue to improve as long as the city stands behind us and keeps the vision for Old Town as the heart of Clovis.”