DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR
MARBLE FALLS — When Madlyn Hoffman saw a person walk through the doors of her namesake store, she took one thing to heart about the customer: She (or he) is important and should be treated as such.
It’s a theme she stressed at both of her Madlyn’s locations — one in Fredericksburg and the other in Marble Falls — and one that permeates the company’s atmosphere, even now, 50 years since she started the women’s clothing store.
“She believed that everybody who walked through those doors had a sign on them that read, ‘I’m important, too,’ and they were treated as such,” said Brenda Durst, Hoffman’s daughter and co-owner of Madlyn’s.
Hoffman’s granddaughter Trisha Greenfield, who works at the Marble Falls store, said she learned from her grandmother that when somebody walks through the door, they aren’t just customers.
“My grandmother said she didn’t have customers, she had friends,” Greenfield said.
“And family,” Durst added. “Everybody was friends and family.”
That business philosophy, absent from many large national departments store, remains a cornerstone of Madlyn’s formula for success. Though Hoffman passed away in 2007, her ideas are in effect each day at both stores.
This month, Madlyn’s celebrated its 50th anniversary. Hoffman opened the Fredericksburg store in 1964 and followed with the Marble Falls location in 1983. And while other similar family owned shops have opened and closed during those five decades, Madlyn’s continues to thrive.
Durst believes it comes down to that personal touch. With the growth of online commerce, people have endless choices of where to shop. But Durst and Greenfield pointed out that the local shopping experience at Madlyn’s means so much more than pressing a button on the computer.
“When you shop over the Internet, you may not really know how something feels or really looks,” Durst said. “When somebody comes into our store, they can try it on, see how it looks and feels on them. You can’t do that over the Internet.”
Then, there’s the personal attention. Greenfield said she’ll have customers see something online but call her to see if she has it in stock and, if not, ask if she could get it.
“People tell me they just like coming in here because we do take the time to help them,” she said. “We don’t just tell them it’s over there, but we’ll answer their questions. We really try to make sure each person who comes in here walks out feeling like somebody cared about them and that they matter.”
Since opening the first store in Fredericksburg and expanding to Marble Falls, Madlyn’s remained a family owned and operated business. Durst recalled growing up in the Fredericksburg store, learning about the business and falling in love with fashion. She admitted that, as a teen, she was more in love with the idea of getting new clothes but decided to pursue a career in fashion. After earning a college degree, Durst didn’t hurry back to Fredericksburg to work in the store. Instead, her mother urged her to go out and work in the fashion business elsewhere to learn.
“She said when she needed me, she’d call,” Durst said. “And one day, she called and said she needed me to come back, and so I did. This is just something I love doing. It’s something we all love doing.”
Greenfield agreed. She recalled as a child going to the Fredericksburg store, where she helped in any way she could.
“I never really went to day care,” she said. “Going to Nana’s store, that was my day care.”
After earning her degree in fashion merchandising, Greenfield returned to Madlyn’s.
As a family business, Durst said everybody working at Madlyn’s feels a strong connection to the success of the store. And they work hard to ensure it continues.
“We have to keep working hard,” Durst said. “I don’t want to retire. I love what I’m doing. It would be awesome to hit 75 years, to be one of those businesses that just keeps going.”
Madlyn’s is hosting a 50th anniversary celebration through Sept. 26. The Marble Falls store, located at 2106 U.S. 281, will be open special hours from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. through Sept. 26 and closed Saturday.
“I just love coming here and working,” Greenfield said. “And that’s what I hope people who come through here feel, that this isn’t a job to us but something we love doing.”