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Mother, daughter store owners pass retail 'learning curve'

Staff Photo: Keith Farner
Margie Wood, left, and Becky Vickery, who are mother and daughter, opened La Ti Da in 2008.  Vickey said Suwanee lacked a store that sold gifts, invitations and graduation supplies.

Staff Photo: Keith Farner Margie Wood, left, and Becky Vickery, who are mother and daughter, opened La Ti Da in 2008. Vickey said Suwanee lacked a store that sold gifts, invitations and graduation supplies.

-- Open since: 2008

-- Owners: Becky Vickey and Margie Wood

-- Website: latidaonline.com

-- Phone: 678-482 7777

-- Hours: Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.SUWANEE -- A long-time Suwanee resident, Becky Vickery, who admittedly loves to shop, saw a void in the local retail market.

A shop that sells gifts, stationery and graduation materials was not available nearby. In 2008, the closest store for those products was in Norcross or Alpharetta.

So Vickery went to her mother, Margie Wood, and the mother-daughter duo opened La Ti Da in September, nearly four years ago.

"I kept telling Mom that we need a good gift store in Suwanee," Vickery said. "The kind of store I would shop at."

Mother and daughter agree that their business might have started off stronger if it had opened four years before, but they're proud to be past the learning curve.

Among the products the 5,000 square-foot store offers are local and regional products, monogrammed gifts, jewelry, candles and bath and body luxuries. Yet Vickery, who handles buying for the store, said her goal is to offer something new for customers who visit the store each month. One newer brand to the store, Spartina, which includes handbags, wallets, jewelry, accessories, is "just hot, hot, hot," Vickery said. Another item, turtlebacks, a drink holder for any terrain, is the kind of unique product Vickery wants to offer customers.

Wood, who is considering retirement soon, works on the accounting side of the business. Mother and daughter have lived in Suwanee since 1984, and Vickery is a North Gwinnett graduate.

Shopping online isn't something either woman enjoys, and that's part of the reason they don't have an online store. They can compete with larger online stores, Vickery said, because they can offer more convenience and personalized service.

Vickery said customer service sets the store apart from its competition. Its employees, which number from eight to 12 depending on the time of year, know regular customers and what they're shopping for. A handful of similar stores around the region have closed recently, and Vickery said La Ti Da is one of a few area gift stores to survive the recession.

"It's something to be proud of, that we came out of it," she said.

Vickery sees the next phase of the business as possibly opening a second location in the region.

"We feel like there are several areas that need it bad," Vickery said.

Vickery, who was a teacher for five years and was previously involved in the PTA at Suwanee Elementary, said she's found her niche and passion, and said she needs challenges.

"I say I love to shop," Vickery said. "I just shop for a living."