Geist Boutique Expands Into Fishers, Carmel and Fashion Mall
“Everybody always needs a gift,” her husband told her. Couple that thought with a high-energy businesswoman who knows how to “do right by people” and you get Delaney’s Shoppe … times four!
The Geist Delaney’s front door flew open at 8:10 a.m. and owner Mary Larson raced in, a cold caffeine drink in one hand and a hot caffeine drink in the other. They were both for her. She had been in the store until 3:00 a.m. decorating for Christmas. And now, five hours later, perfect make up and hair. Cute outfit. Huge smile. Talking a mile a minute – BEFORE the consumption of the double-fisted caffeine.
Mary started out by mentioning she named her stores after her daughter, Delaney, who is now 13 and attends St. Simon the Apostle. She repeated “My last name is Larson, not Delaney!” She and her husband Dan also have a son, Tommy, who’s at Indiana University, and a son Clayton, who attends Bishop Chatard.
While the three Delaney locations each have a somewhat different look and feel, they’re all a reflection of Mary – stylish, artistic and full of life. The Delaney’s at Geist is Mary’s original store, opened in 2002 and then expanded in 2004 when the neighboring alteration business left. She now has two other Delaney’s, one in Fishers at 8989 E. 116th Street, and one in Carmel at 14753 Hazel Dell Road. Most merchandise is similar, but each location has items specific to the desires of the neighboring community. Mary believes that’s all part of providing her customers what they need and want.
Mary describes the Geist location as “country French.” The Fishers store, with its exposed brick, is more “urban,” and the Carmel Delaney’s is more “contemporary,” with lots of glass and light blue and white décor. Mary does the buying for all three stores and while they carry many of the same things, she does find some items that are clearly right for one location or another.
All three locations have women’s clothing, including trendy tops and stylish jeans. There are loads of hip jewelry, along with candles, lotions and seasonal decorating items. And even though it is expensive and time consuming buying and offering something for just about everyone, it’s important to Mary that her customers find what they’re looking for.
“I’m certainly open to hearing from my customers what they’d like to see in my stores,” Mary said. “Whether it’s a particular lotion or different brand of jeans, I try to accommodate when I can. Some suppliers have a minimum order and that can be a problem. But if I can get it, I will!”
Mary says she doesn’t envision herself ever being permanently located in a mall, but Delaney’s will have a presence in the Fashion Mall during November and December. Her first love is really to be set in the community, and to her that means she stocks items for her specific clientele and has chosen locations that allow her customers easy parking and access, which saves them time.
“It’s funny. At the Geist store, I often hear women on their phones telling their husbands or kids that they would be home soon — they’re just at Marsh,” Mary laughs. “The Hazel Dell store is right by a Kroger — same thing over there.”
She never envisioned herself the owner of three women’s boutique shops. In fact, Mary had a very busy full-time job when she decided to concurrently open the Geist store. She had always been in sales — mostly medical sales — and juggled a hectic schedule with that of her husband and her three children. The money was good, the hours were many and the paperwork was mountainous. She loves sales. Hates paperwork. Then came a life changing event. She had a “nanny nightmare” and decided right then and there that she and Dan would work something out to trade off being home with the kids. She started the Geist store, then eventually left medical sales and worked part-time selling furniture at Kittle’s. It wasn’t long before the store was her full-time job … and love.
While it’s clear Mary’s success comes primarily from her “Irish Catholic work ethic,” she spreads the credit among her family members. Her mother, Gladys Caulfield, is an artist and paints many items found in the stores. She also paints custom ordered pieces, like special tiles and other decorative items and even once painted a special order toilet seat. One of her Christmas ornaments won a contest and was chosen for the White House Christmas tree during President George W. Bush’s administration. A staunch Democrat, Gladys allowed it anyway, Mary chuckles. The stores currently have many holiday ornaments painted by Gladys.
Her father, Tom Caulfield, sold construction equipment and Mary credits him with teaching her how to sell. Her parents and her upbringing in very cold Bismarck, North Dakota, made her a strong woman, she says. Both parents frequent the stores and help out.
Husband Dan is a contractor and is responsible for the build-outs of the three stores. Walls, flooring, ceilings — it’s all Dan. And Mary’s sister, Noreen, a retired nurse, co-manages the Carmel Delaney’s.
“I owe all of this to my family. They are all so supportive and hard working and have instilled in me how to take care of people and treat everyone the same because it’s the right thing to do,” Mary said. “My parents helped me understand that if you put your nose to the grindstone and help provide people with what they want and need, the sales will come. I have notes and letters from customers who tell me they can bring their grandmothers and their daughters to my stores and everyone finds something they want. I just love that. That’s why I’m here.”
A regular workweek for Mary is about 70 hours. During the holidays, it’s more like 90 hours, meaning six 15-hour days. She and her family have one thing they splurge on — the Indianapolis Colts. They try not to miss a game.
Even during these uncertain economic times, Mary says all three Delaney’s locations are doing well. The Fishers location has the most traffic and Delaney’s sales overall are up double digits from this time last year. This, she says, is because of what Dan told her at the onset, “Everybody always needs a gift.” The stores see very quick turnover of inventory, especially clothes, and the offer to gift wrap purchases is a real plus, especially this time of year.
“We’re not a hard sell store culture,” Mary said. “We greet everyone but follow around no one. We won’t hover or pressure customers. It’s an atmosphere where we like it if you’re merely browsing. No one is on commission. We’ll say hi when you walk in the door and then we’ll leave you alone until you need us. We understand people today are busy. We pride ourselves in having trendy and cool things that aren’t price prohibitive. Snotty is not allowed in Delaney’s!”
14753 Hazel Dell Rd
8989 E 116th St
11715 Fox Rd
coming for the holidays!