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Photo by Rebecca Walden.
The Pink Tulip
Pink Tulip Wardrobe Consultant Katie Beth Rice (left) is just one of many friendly faces shoppers will find upon their visit to the store’s newest location in Patton Creek.
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Pink Tulip boots
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Pink Tulip store
180 Main Street, Suite 212
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sunday, noon-5 p.m.
Though not the retail store’s first foray into the City of Hoover, The Pink Tulip of today reflects an evolution of the business that was more than 30 years in the making.
“We started this business in 1986 as a home furnishings and gift store,” said co-owner Letty Algren, who operates the store with her husband, Duff, and their daughter Hadley.
Though it was short-lived, the original location of The Pink Tulip, so named after Algren’s favorite flower, was on Southside. In the early days, customers made their priorities clear to the eager young owners.
“While we had brought in a little bit of clothing, sort of as accents to our accessories and home décor, it was the clothing that sold so fast,” said Algren. “So that changed the balance of our inventory, and very quickly, we evolved into a clothing and accessories store with a little in the way of home furnishings.”
When the opportunity to move into Homewood arose, the Algrens wasted no time, even opening up a children’s boutique — Bugs and Butterflies — next door. After a five-year hiatus, the couple set to work with plans to establish the Cahaba Village location, which opened in March 2011, and followed that store’s success with the Patton Creek location this past month.
“When I took the store back over, I had this renewed excitement about working in retail,” Algren said, noting that shopping as the mother of a teenager daughter had given her an entirely new perspective on the business. “Now I could look at it from the angle of approaching customers of all ages.”
In addition to wanting to appeal to a wide swath of shoppers, Algren said the five-year break gave her a new point of view about how to attract and retain those customers as well.
“People are watching their money much closer than they did in the 1990s, and I really wanted to concentrate on having affordable, unique and fun everyday wear that would fit teens, moms and even grandmoms.”
Algren attends seven to eight markets per year, and she goes well outside the Deep South — often to Los Angeles, Dallas and New York — to find fashions her customers will adore. For her fashion eye, Algren credits her mother.
“My mom was my best friend, and she was so creative,” Algren said. “I didn’t have the money to go buy clothes as a young girl, so I would flip through magazines, design outfits, cut out patterns on newspaper, and then she would sew my outfits together. It’s how our house was furnished, how my closet was furnished. I was always able to look at things and ask myself, ‘What could that be used for?’”
Observant shoppers will notice that Algren’s knack for repurposing is alive and well in the Patton Creek store, where fixtures include reclaimed pieces from Arlington High School in Bessemer.
“We go to thrift stores all over the place, and through a gentleman we know from thrifting, we were invited to join him on a salvaging trip out to the school,” Algren said. “It’s incredible to think that for hundreds of years, kids have rubbed their hands on these handrails, and now they are at The Pink Tulip in Hoover.”