November 5, 2013 at 2:59 PM
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ - After six years as one of the village center’s premier merchants, Robyn Ross is closing its iconic South Orange retail store. Owner Robyn Fields has decided to accept a position with another company, which she said she is not at liberty to discuss just yet.
“I was presented with an opportunity that I could not say no to,” Fields said. “Additionally, it will allow me to spend more time with my family. I just couldn’t refuse it.”
A going-out-of-business sale with deep markdowns will begin on Wednesday.
For Fields, the announcement is bittersweet. While excited for her new opportunity, she clearly will miss operating her store in South Orange.
“I remember people saying to me how much they needed a store like mine,” she said. “Everyone was excited that there was finally a store in town that they could shop at without having to go to the mall.”
The store did open with strong sales and a promising future, but just a few months later, the economy took a turn for the worse.
“The bottom falling out didn’t really affect me until November of that year,” she said. “Even though everyone around me was falling apart, I managed to stay afloat.”
She continued to prosper despite the tougher times by making smart business decisions like reducing inventory and being mindful of price points.
“A full year later, I felt like I was going to be okay,” she said. “My customers kept shopping and I was gaining more and more notoriety.”
Fields noted that the store was attracting customers from New York to Pennsylvania and credits three things.
“One, I had the ‘eye’ to find unique items,” she said. “Second, I could completely outfit women for the season and tell them what to wear down to the undergarments and shoes. Last of all, I gave amazing customer service.”
This was a winning formula. Robyn Ross was awarded NJ Monthly’s coveted title of “NJ’s Best Women’s Clothing Boutique” in 2010, 2011, and 2012.
“That is quiet an accomplishment for any store, not to mention winning it three years in row,” says Fields.
With the store doing so well, Fields felt she wanted to get more involved with helping South Orange’s downtown business district. She applied to serve on a special improvement district advisory committee called for by the Board of Trustees in the Village. Not only was she selected, but she was nominated to be the committee's chairperson.
Fields said, “I had never been involved in something like this but was excited and ready for the challenge.” After a year of research, the advisory committee came to the conclusion that a Special Improvement District was needed in South Orange, and the Board of Trustees voted unanimously in favor.
Fields was appointed to sit on the newly formed South Orange Village Center Alliance (SOVCA) and became its Vice Chairperson.
“I have enjoyed my tenure on the SOVCA. I am proud of my service on the board and although I must step down, I feel that the organization is in a good place to move forward and accomplish the goals that we set forth,” she said.
“I love South Orange and think this is one of the greatest places to live and work. I have made many amazing friendships here and plan on visiting often. I know there are great things on the horizon for this town.”