When you walk into Certain Things, you know you’ve walked into something special. Whether it’s the hand-picked eclectic music playing over the speakers, the plethora of Tootsie Pops, or the warm welcome from Doug and Lu. To celebrate the store’s platinum anniversary, we interviewed the owners to learn what it’s been like working in Cameron Village for the past two decades.
The story of Certain Things starts in the mid-nineties. Lu was working in Cameron Village and Doug was working in the retail industry. They decided to make a big change in their lives without changing where they lived.
“For us, we wanted to stay here in Raleigh mostly because we loved it. And our kids were here going to college and they did not want to get uprooted. Doug had always been with retail corporate America. We were getting tired of that and had always dreamed of owning our own business so we took the opportunity to grab onto Certain Things,” says Lu.
Before we learn more about this adorable couple, let’s address the elephant in the room. To most people, working in the same space with your spouse for 20-straight years probably sounds…challenging. But for Lu and Doug, it’s anything but.
“It’s wonderful. It’s a gift from God,” says Doug. “To have a business like this that keeps the two of us together and working with each other and relying on each other. It’s just wonderful. And then our kids are all right here for us so it’s just wonderful.”
They even go on business trips together. Five times every year they travel to AmericasMart in Atlanta, GA to do their shopping for the upcoming seasons. Even after 100 of these trips together, they don’t consider them to be business.
“We’ve established some wonderful relationships with friends down there,” says Doug. “It’s like a vacation we take five times a year to go down there. It’s just the two of us together and we have fun.”
When reflecting on the past two decades, creating a successful business is one of their proudest accomplishments but it’s mainly the relationships they’ve formed and the experiences with customers that really stand out.
“Our customers come in sometimes just to visit. They just come in and say, ‘I haven’t got anything to do. I just wanted to come in and visit.’” says Lu.
“One night I had three of my customers come in. They were treating their cousin to a new haircut and they wanted to get her something fun. They ended up staying till after hours and we laughed and giggled. They ended up vacuuming the store for us. And we still talk about that. When they come in, they say, ‘We’ve never had so much fun.’ Those are some of our favorite memories.”
And if you think any of their excitement or enthusiasm has waned over the years, you’d be wrong.
“I have to say every time I drive into Cameron Village, I smile,” says Lu.
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And you’ll definitely smile every time you step into Certain Things. Happy anniversary!