By LOU WILIN
Trends! on Main, 501 S. Main St., is about affordability in fashion, but a few years ago it also tried offering more higher-priced dresses.
“We really just listen to our customers. Our girls were telling us, ‘We want more designer dresses,'” said Pam Hamlin, Trends on Main owner.
The pricey ball gowns were a hit with the girls for prom and homecoming. But Hamlin and her employees saw a trend of a disturbing kind.
“We started to see arguments between mom and daughter. Mom can’t afford the dress, but daughter really wants the dress, and so mom finds a way to buy the daughter the dress,” she said. “We saw that too many times.”
It was painful for Hamlin, a mother of four, director of Millstream Career Center and lifelong educator.
“We decided we really don’t want to do that. We don’t want people to have to break the bank to buy a gown for a one-night event.”
The $500 dresses disappeared, and the more affordable ones stayed. That meant Trends on Main lost some customers. But that was OK.
“That’s not who we want to be,” Hamlin said. “We don’t want to see a tension when they come to buy a dress.”
Said and done by one who as a girl was told by her mom to deal with overly long pants by rolling them up on the inside and fastening them with masking tape. No hemming for that girl. Her mother did not like to shop. Hamlin’s parents had a moderate income, she said.
“My father had two jobs. My mother was a school teacher … and still is,” Hamlin said. “I didn’t grow up with taking vacations all the time, or things being handed to me. Certainly I was taught the value of work.”
Her first job was in retail, and so, too, were the jobs that followed as she worked her way through school.
But Hamlin’s passion was and still is education. Trends on Main is her hobby.
The business has been operating on Main Street for 10 years, but its origins run two years before that.
Hamlin started making and selling jewelry out of Designer Group Salon & Spa, 124 W. Lincoln St., in 2006.
Then one summer her daughter attended an eight-week musical theater camp in New York City, and Hamlin occasionally visited her.
“I discovered the wholesale district in New York City and it was so fun,” she said.
She started buying jewelry wholesale out of New York City and bringing it to sell in Findlay. Then she branched out, buying scarves and purses and other accessories and introducing them in Findlay.
She and her husband, Tim, started flying to more cities, like Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago to buy goods and bring them back to the store. In more recent years, she has done more buying online.
“I do all of the buying for the store, which is great fun,” Hamlin said. “I love to do the buying.”
Trends on Main continued to evolve. A few years ago it started offering special occasion dresses, then men’s tuxedos.
It outgrew one Main Street space and then moved to the storefronts at the corner of Main and Sandusky streets. Then Trends branched out into more general clothing.
Hamlin gives credit to her store employees, who handle much of the store’s daily operations.
Peggy Thompson, in particular, has been with the business from the very start, and knows how Hamlin would want something done, Hamlin said.
“I never have to worry about things,” she said.
Hamlin is free to concentrate on the shopping. From the time she was a girl, she always liked to shop. Still, the Trends journey has been one of discovery for her.
“I don’t think I was trendy growing up by any means. I wasn’t into fashion really at the time, but loved to shop,” she said. “I love putting color together. I think I just used that over the years to make it work and discover it.
“I still wouldn’t say that I’m the trendiest person. There’s certainly women that shop at better and more expensive, elaborate boutiques,” Hamlin said. “But I do what’s comfortable for me.”
That’s her advice to women who approach her: “Find something that fits your personality. You have to be comfortable.”