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Interview with Rob Cherry

Interviewee: 
Cherry, Rob
Interviewer: 
Brewer, Carlton
Date of Interview: 
1992-07-22
Identifier: 
MUCH0117
Subjects: 
Black-owned business; retail store; clothier; merchandizing; discounting; youth apparel; retail policies.
Abstract: 
Robert Cherry discusses his family's retail clothing store, Cherry's Fashions, in Rock Hill, SC. He talks about the establishment's history and his role in the operations of the store. He talks about merchandising and sales strategies for the business, which is geared toward the youth market.
Coverage: 
1985-1992
Interview Setting: 
Rob Cherry's home.
Collection: 
Levine Museum of the New South, Local History Series
Transcript:
CB (Carlton Brewer): Museum of the New South hist--, oral history project. The date is the 22nd of July, the time is twelve-forty, and the place is in his house. The Interviewer is Carlton Brewer and the interviewee is--.
RC (Robert Cherry): Robert Cherry.
CB: Yes, how long ago was it that you used to sell clothes?
RC: About six months ago.
CB: Yeah, what kind of style and the fashion do y'all sell?
RC: Sell all the up-to-date styles, like damaged, used, and all the up-to-date fashions in style clothes.
CB: Is--. Tell me, tell me the name of the store you used to sell clothes for.
RC: Cherry's Fashions.
CB: Where is it located?
RC: 1411 Cherry Street, in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
CB: Yes, where did mostly of your customers come from?
RC: A lot of customers come from Charlotte, North Carolina, looking for good deals on clothing. And a lot of them come from inside of Rock Hill and around Chester, the small parts of South Carolina.
CB: How much do y'all short sets of pants and stuff cost usually?
RC: Well you can get a damaged short set for about fifty dollars, about fifty-nine. No higher than sixty-five dollars. Our pants are usually anywhere around seventy-five, no higher than eighty dollars. That's pants, that's the whole outfit.
CB: Yeah. And do y'all mostly get young customers or older, older customers?
RC: Mostly we get all young mostly. Unless they--. Mostly old customers be their parents, the ones buying gifts, buying clothes for someone else.
CB: So y'all never had nobody young, like you, I mean older usually buy your clothes?
RC: Sometimes, it just be off and on. Not, it's not often we'll find an older person buying clothes.
CB: Where do mostly y'all clothes come from? Like the USA? Hong Kong?
RC: A lot of them be made in, come from USA. We might get some of the Japanese. We mostly from the USA.
CB: How long has the shop been there?
RC: Shop been there for about eight years now.
CB: And so y'all not new to this business?
RC: No. It started out, my grandmother started the business out, and then, you know, she got up in age, my aunt took over.
CB: And how old are you?
RC: Sixteen.
CB: Do, do you plan on like doing this for, as a career or just doing it for like the summer or whatever?
RC: I usually do it for the summer, off and on. If, I might go in there for a few months and sell a few clothes.
CB: You never wear anything from out of this shop?
RC: Yes, mostly. A lot of my clothes come from the shop.
CB: Do y'all only just sell shoe--, I mean clothes? Do y'all sell shoes to go with those clothes or whatever?
RC: Yes, we sell a lot of casual shoes. Some, we've got some of the new in style tennis shoes.
CB: Like could you name, name some of them for me?
RC: Air Jordans, and--. Most of these new--. And FILAs and those, Patrick Ewings. A lot of those shoes kind of like that.
CB: Yeah.
RC: But it's mostly casual shoes.
CB: Like what, what's the name of some of y'all's causal shoes?
RC: Buffolinos, Hitech, the Hitech boots, and some of those Sebagos and things like that.
CB: Somebody's here. Somebody's here. [RECORDING INTERRUPTED, RECORDING RESUMED]
CB: If anybody famous that you think I know, or anybody know, came in the store before?
RC: Not really. When, sometime when they, they have some kind of little small concert at clubs you might find some of them, some might come in. They come in the mall, they might come in the shop. Not mostly. It's not a, like, rarely thing. It's just like every once in a while.
CB: Do, do you like model or anything?
RC: No, I just kind of persuade people to get, you know, help suggest, you know, help them decide on a lot of clothes.
CB: Do you know how to dress yourself?
RC: Yes, because, you know, I just, I hook a lot of clothes up together.
CB: Have you ever thought about working for some big cooperation like Belk's or anything like that?
RC: That crossed my mind, you know, working for Belk's, you know, crossed my mind, working for some clothes, clothing places like that.
CB: Yum-hum. Are y'all thinking about expanding anywhere?
RC: Yes, we're thinking about opening up a few shops up in Charlotte, you know, because in Charlotte it's kind of a big city. [RECORDING INTERRUPTED, THEN RESUMED]
CB: Y'all giving a discounts to y'all regular customers or anything like that?
RC: Yeah, that's our job. We give up a lot of discounts. And a lot of our frequent customers get, frequently customers, get the most discounts. But we got good discounts.
CB: And what kind of discounts do y'all give?
RC: Sometime thirty to fifty percent discounts.
CB: How do y'all order most of y'all clothes?
RC: Out a lot of those fashion catalogs, you know. We order a lot of catalogs, and we just order out of the catalogs.
CB: Um-hum. So do your aunt do most of the ordering or y'all have--? Your aunt just own the shop, and she have other people just, you know, looking through them and order them.
RC: Yes. She look through and see what they like, and we all agree on what, on what to order.
CB: Well, your aunt does she, does she work in the store or, you know, she just own it and then do other business outside of the store?
RC: She own it, and most of the time she work in the store.
CB: Um-hum. What all do you do in the store?
RC: I help sell clothes, and, you know, that's about all.
CB: Do you work with money, the cash register or do you just work with clothes?
RC: Yes, I work with mostly--. Mostly the clothes I help sell I usually do the money part for it, and I run the cash register a lot.
CB: Um-hum. And do y'all do like displays, you know, like have mannequins and stuffs putting, having the clothes on?
RC: Yes, we have a lot of mannequins around with a lot of the new clothes. We just put the most of the new clothes that we got in on the mannequins,
CB: Um-hum.
RC: and, you know, help persuade. We have them all around the mall.
CB: Who, who dresses the mannequins like?
RC: My aunt usually dresses the mannequins. I don't dress them. I dress a few of them. She dresses most of the ones out in the mall and the windows. I dress the ones usually in the store.
CB: Do y'all ever been considered opening a store up for like older people, like that have older clothes in it.
RC: We thought about it selling a lot of, you know, dre--. Well we sell dresses, but, you know, sell some dresses like for older people.
CB: Yeah.
RC: They like a different, they like a different style from we do. They like like older style clothes
CB: Yeah.
RC: or older model clothes.
CB: Like the 60s and stuff like that.
RC: Yeah. My aunt thought about it. My grandma was kind of persuaded my aunt to open up another store like that, and just start selling those kind of clothes in our store.
CB: Because you'll too many people running around with--, old people running around with (tennis shoes) or something.
RC: Yeah. That long. Yeah.
CB: Have y'all had any complaints on y'all clothes?
RC: None that I know of. We had no complaints usually when I'm working there. You know, we've been prepared for complaints. If anybody have complaints we give their money back, or they want to get an exchange, we'll give them an exchange.
CB: Yes, how does, like the warranty on y'all clothes?
RC: We'll give them up to about ten to twenty days on a warranty.
CB: Um-hum. Y'all didn't never had anybody come like a day after that or anything?
RC: No.
CB: Do you all like hem up clothes and stuff?
RC: Yes, we'll hem up like if they're a little too big for you. We'll hem them up, you know.
CB: Do y'all charge extra for that?
RC: No, no extra charge.
CB: Damn, I think I'm going to start shopping here. Do y'all see a STARTER coats and STARTER hats? Anything with STARTER and like, like goose downs and anything like that?
RC: Yes, we sell a lot of STARTER jackets and STARTER, STARTER goose wear and STARTER coats. And those long gooses, we sell all of that.
CB: How much do you run, charge?
RC: On a STARTER jacket, we have--. With a STARTER coats with the hoods, we give it up for ninety-nine dollars. And on a goose we get that, we'll probably give you a discount. Give it to you about $110 or something like that for long gooses.
CB: Um-hum. Now when y'all giving all these discounts how do y'all make up for the money that y'all lose?
RC: It really costs--. Well we, we buy the clothes from like Hong Kong and things like that, it's really cheap. The American dollars is really cheap. And, you know, we just--. Not really a profit we make. We keep at our same profit.
CB: Um-hum. So y'all all getting more--?
RC: More than what we paid for.
CB: Yeah. [RECORDING INTERRPUTED, THEN RESUMED]
RC: How long do y'all keep like pants and stuff before anybody buys them? Like say y'all keep the pants for like thirty days and don't nobody come and buy them. What y'all would do with the pants if you all need extra, more room for other new stuff that need to come in?
RC: We'll just put them in a different area of the store and that would be in. We would take the price down a little bit, and just sell it at a lower price in a different area of the store, like it could be a [Pause] discount area, a super discount area.
CB: So y'all have like a discount area in y'all store.
RC: Well mostly a super-discount area; it's extra low priced you know.
CB: Yeah. How many different department sections do y'all got in y'all store, and how people y'all got working in each department section?
RC: We only got about two, really two departments, and we got-let's see. There's about six of us, including me, working in the store. It's not a big store. It's kind of small, kind of compact. We manage to work through it.
CB: How many different departments do y'all got like in your store.
RC: We have two different departments.
CB: How many people do y'all got working in ea--, like each section?
RC: Well, in the cash--, we have two working in the cash register, two in the regular, regular department area and two in the super-discount area.
CB: Um-hum. And which, so you work in the cashier section, right?
RC: Yes, and mostly I catch them usually when they come through the front door.
CB: Yeah. Do y'all have anybody who like show people the clothes around, you know, like a sales person would do like say, "We've got some new sales for you," or something like that over--. Do you all have a person doing it?
RC: Yes, I usually do that, you know. Take them like, "We've got some new items in," you know. Show them those, you know. I usually do that mostly.
CB: Um-hum. How did y'all first begin? Did y'all pass out fliers or you were working and you don't remember?
RC: Well, I wasn't really working there. I was kind of young. I couldn't remember too much, but alls I remember they were just, you know, passing out fliers and they were talking about it, you know, they had a TV commercial about it.
CB: Um-hum. Do you know enough about the business to open up your own shop or anything?
RC: Pretty much, yeah, but I'd probably have to have a little help from (Rolanda), my aunt, to just get started with. That's about it.
CB: Out of all, all the times you've worked there what, do you remember like the, the best time when y'all had the most sales and everything?
RC: The most sales usually be around Christmas and around school time, time for school to start.
CB: Um-hum.
RC: And around mostly the holidays like the Fourth of July, New Years.
CB: Do y'all mostly, do people mostly buy shorts or pants? Which one do y'all get the most sales in between those?
RC: We usually get the most sales in pants, even in the summertime we have a lot of sales on pants.
CB: Do people mostly come like to buy the whole suits together or they'll come like the pants one day and buy the shorts another day?
RC: Most likely they'll buy the whole suit, most likely. Sometimes you might find them just to buy the pants and then they buy the shirt later.
CB: What are the store hours and how many shifts do y'all have?
RC: We don't have no shifts, it's just--. The store hours are from 8:00 until about nine o' clock on weekdays, and on weekends it's from 8:00 until 10:30.
CB: Why y'all open so late?
RC: For the main reason a lot of people get off work kind of, you know, like eight, eight o' clock you know, and we just stay open, you know. They might want to come buy after they get off work, you know, and buy some clothes or something.
CB: Y'all not, y'all never be afraid of getting robbed or held up, anything?
RC: Not really because the mall is right--. We're connected to the mall, and our store's on the outside part. And this is usually kind of a heavy security around there.
CB: Do y'all have like gates and bars and everything?
RC: When we close, yes. We've got a lot of bars around the front, around the front, around the windows and around the front part of the store entrance.
CB: Um-hum. Have, have y'all had a few suspects that y'all think was trying to rob you at any point in time?
RC: Not really, not mostly because usually the security guard is in and out over there, and [Pause] not really. But I hate to leave you, but I'm on my lunch break. And anytime I'd be glad to
CB: All right.
RC: help you out any other time.
CB: All right. Take care.
RC: All right. Thank you.
CB: Peace.
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