The Ginger Tree’s successful run coming to an end
By Bruce Edwards
STAFF WRITER | August 05,2013
Albert J. Marro / Staff Photo
Martha Dwyer has decided it’s time to retire. After 35 years in business, she is closing The Ginger Tree. The store opened in 1978 on Wales Street in downtown Rutland and then moved to North Main Street.
Thirty-five years ago Martha Dwyer was a nurse looking for a career change. She found it — making the switch from caring for patients to helping women find the right clothing and accessories.
Now, after a successful second career as owner of The Ginger Tree, Dwyer is retiring from the business and closing the store on North Main Street.
“It’s just time,” Dwyer said the other day while sitting behind a large wooden desk in her cluttered, but well-organized office.
The decision to close the store, located in a former Victorian house, wasn’t easy.
But as she approaches her 70th birthday, she said it’s time to move on.
“It’s very sad for me,” Dwyer said. “I really, really love it. I love the women I work with. I’ve met great customers that are just wonderful, who have become good friends.”
Within three years after she and her husband, Phil, opened the store on Wales Street in what is now Two Sheas bar, they outgrew the space and relocated to 45 North Main St. It’s been there ever since.
The store is situated at the well-traveled intersection of Routes 4 and 7, which made it an excellent location.
Dwyer said 75 percent of her customers found the store simply driving by.
The store has its charm, from the stained glass front door to the parquet wood floor with neatly positioned racks of clothing and accessories.
Seeing a need in the community, Dwyer started out selling maternity and women’s clothing in larger sizes, 12 to 26. About 15 years ago, as U.S. manufacturers got out of the business and quality suffered, Dwyer decided to drop maternity from the store’s portfolio. The store filled that void with black tie and mother of the bride and groom wear. The store also expanded its inventory, carrying sizes from 6 to 26 — missy, petite and plus — along with sportswear and outerwear.
Not to be overlooked, Dwyer said the store does a good business in accessories, everything from jewelry and scarves to handbags and candles.
Neatly attired in a black dress, ruffled blouse and black shoes, Dwyer recalled growing up a stone’s throw from her shop.
“I grew up two doors down where CVS is,” she said.
Her father was Jimmy Marro, a businessman and real estate developer.
Pinned on her office bulletin board are odds and ends and memories, including family photos. One faded color photo shows her father, husband, and two sons, posing with Ted Williams on one of his visits here to play golf. His friend and golf partner was Bob Franzoni, who ran a downtown sporting goods store.
For Dwyer, though, there has been little time for rest and relaxation over the years.
She said running a retail business is nonstop.
“It’s a lot of hours,” she said.
The store is open six days a week until 6 p.m., and from noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.
“We’re open seven days, which works, and we’re open until 6 p.m., which is very, very important because women work,” Dwyer said.
When she’s not at the store, Dwyer goes on buying trips four or five times a year, staying on top of the latest fashion trends.
Besides locals, many of the store’s customers are second-homeowners. The store also draws customers from as far away as Burlington, Glens Falls, N.Y., and Lebanon, N.H.
As for the future, Dwyer said she never had any plans to sell the business. Once the inventory is gone, she’ll try to lease the building, which has two apartments on the second floor.
On the last day, when she finally closes the door behind her, Dwyer will take away 35 years of memories.
“It’s definitely time consuming and you’ve got to love it,” she said. “I really do like it.”