Q&A with...Selma Gold, who is retiring from Harper’s
FAIRFIELD — Selma Gold, 76, has made the decision to retire from Harper’s, a full-service furrier.
But, she admits, she’s feeling some trepidation about leaving the job she’s been doing for three decades, so her retirement date is fluid. And retirement doesn’t mean she won’t be there to help out when it’s time to get furs out of storage or the holiday shopping is in full swing.
The family-owned and -operated store opened over 75 years ago, starting at the corner of Cannon and Broad streets in downtown Bridgeport. The Gold family bought the business in 1984, and Selma Gold’s husband, Jerry, is the store’s president. Son Gary is also involved in the business, which moved from Bridgeport to space in the Trader Joe’s shopping center on Black Rock Turnpike. It has since moved down the block and into the neighboring town of Fairfield, currently located in the ShopRite plaza.
When Selma Gold leaves the store, so will the woman’s clothing the shop sells, and Harper’s will return its focus to furs.
Q: When did you start working at Harper’s?
A: Oh, 32 years ago, since 1984.
Q: What was your job at the store?
A: When we first opened, I was helping to buy the furs, then we decided to sell ready-to-wear clothing and we started expanding. We had beautiful evening wear and suits, just beautiful clothing. I did all the buying.
I went to the University of Bridgeport for fashion merchandising. I started working, not in this field, when the kids were about 8 years old, doing some part-time work.
Q: What kind of changes have you seen in what you sell?
A: Well, we used to carry evening gowns and mother-of-the-bride gowns. We used to wear suits, everyone wore a suit — if you went to dinner, you would wear a suit, you would wear heels.
Then, all of sudden, things got much more casual, so we got more casual and we started selling separates. That was a big change in the fashion industry.
Q: Has your clientele changed?
A: We have had the most wonderful clients through the years. They’ve become like family to us. And we get younger people, too. It’s really been wonderful.
Our clients have been great, although at first some of them were disappointed when we stopped carrying evening gowns and mother-of-the-bride dresses.
Q: There have been anti-fur protests by animal rights groups. Have they had any impact on your business?
A: Not really. Younger women still like furs. They wear the reversible furs and shearlings and poncho furs, and that’s all going to be here still — everything but the clothing.
Q: What will you do when you retire?
A: Well, I think I’m going to do a little volunteering, and I think I’m going to be here whenever they need me; I’ll help out. I just want to enjoy myself and have a good time. I will continue all that, you just don’t stop all of that. I loved all of it, but you have to know when to exit.
I’m going to miss my clients. They’ve said they won’t know what to buy. I’ve told them, “I’ll go shopping with you.”