All Wrapped Up: Longtime businesswoman retiring at end of the month
Retiring businesswoman Barb Mushlitz is walking away from the cash register and packing up the gift wrap after 42 years of helping women in Quincy stay abreast of the latest fashion trends.
Barb’s Place closes Nov. 29, signaling the end of the stylish boutique that has been an anchor in downtown Quincy.
“When I reached 80, I decided it was time,” Mushlitz said. “I felt it was the smart thing to do. I will miss it something dearly.”
Just last week, Barb’s Place was named the 2014 Business of the Year by the Quincy Valley Chamber of Commerce. The chamber on Saturday also honored Mushlitz, who has been active in the business community since she opened her doors, with a special award commemorating her more than four decades in the chamber.
“This has been my life, and this is what I like to do,” Mushlitz said. “I have been having fun for 42 years.”
Mushlitz opened Barb’s Place in 1972 on C Street Southwest, where Tacos Jalisco is now. She later moved to her shop on Central Avenue South.
When she opened, Mushlitz wanted to bring in new styles of clothing for young women; 40 years ago, there was a lack of current trends being sold in area stores.
“I didn’t think about the business end of it,” she said. “I just wanted to do something different.”
To make sure Barb’s Place offered the most current fashions, Mushlitz traveled to markets in Seattle, including the Northwest Trend Show. Barb’s Place also was part of a traveling fashion show for some time. Using her motor home, Mushlitz would take her clothes and models all around the area to put on fashion shows.
“I like fashion, but I feel you don’t have to wear what’s fashionable every year,” she said. “You should buy what you like and find your niche. Get a good basic wardrobe and build around it.”
Over the years, Barb’s Place has seen many changes. At one time, Mushlitz had a store in Moses Lake and another in Wenatchee. Both have since closed.
Barb’s Place also has been one of the No. 1 places in Quincy to purchase a gift for a friend or family member. Mushlitz, who attended gift shows to pick out items for her store, and her vendors, has sold everything from antiques to baby clothing to holiday items. Known for her emphasis on customer service, Mushlitz offered to gift wrap every present she sold, adding that personal touch and saving many men in Quincy from gift-wrapping frustration.
“I love the people,” she said. “I love to help people pick out gifts and shop for loved ones.”
Rhonda Rosenberger, Mushlitz’s friend for 30 years and an employee for the past 10, recalls how Barb’s Place was a gathering place for teachers who just wanted to shop and unwind for a while.
“The open houses were also amazing,” Rosenberger said. “She had an open house for the men called Men’s Night, where they could come and shop for their wives. They still talk about it.”
Longtime friend Sunshine Didra recalls how friendships were cultivated at Barb’s. Mushlitz always made sure Christmas was happy and fun at her store, Didra said.
“It was good for the soul,” Didra said. “I would tell her I just came here to unwind.”
“I have had so much fun,” Rosenberger agreed. “It is going to be a big void in Quincy. I wish her happiness on her next journey.”
As for Mushlitz, she has enjoyed working with the local merchants, and she is thankful for the many customers who kept her business going over the years.
“I will miss my customers,” she said. “Most of them have become my friends.”
— By Tammara Green, QVPR contributor