AUBURN — An Auburn business that has provided uniforms for doctors, nurses, emergency-medical technicians, and restaurant workers for more than four decades has a new owner.
Auburn native Jenna Meyers acquired Uniform Fashions from previous owner Tammy Flaherty in a transaction that closed on May 17. Meyers declined to disclose the acquisition cost.
Meyers is the owner and sole proprietor of the business that operates in a 1,500-square-foot space at 145 State St. in Auburn, she says.
Flaherty had owned the business since 1998 after the death of her mother, Lucille Bronson, who had previously owned the business.
Flaherty sold the business because she was “looking for a change of pace,” says Meyers.
The former owner is also running for the position of town clerk in the town of Owasco, Meyers adds.
Acquiring the business
Prior to acquiring Uniform Fashions, Meyers operated Custard’s Last Stand, her parents’ ice-cream shop in Sennett, since 2009.
Before that, she had been living in Boston, working for El Segundo, Calif.–based NC4, a company that handles private-intelligence work for corporations, she says.
“I was unhappy, so I moved home,” she explains.
Meyers’ mother, Marianne, who has worked as a nurse, is a frequent customer of Uniform Fashions. During a visit in October 2012, Flaherty had mentioned to Meyers’ mother that she was hoping to sell the business.
Marianne shared the information with Jenna, who saw it as an opportunity.
“I had always wanted to run a retail store of my own, and it just kind of presented itself,” Meyers says.
After some discussion, Flaherty offered Meyers a chance to acquire the business in November 2012, and both sides formally signed the contracts in the middle of January, Meyers says.
In financing the acquisition, Meyers secured a loan from Cayuga Lake National Bank but declined to disclose the dollar figure.
The Cayuga Women’s Business Trust also provided Meyers $20,000 in collateral for her bank loan.
“I was short $20,000, so [Trust founder] Cynthia Aikman pledged to the bank that they would support that $20,000. It works just like a regular loan,” Meyers explains, noting it means she has two loans to pay for the acquisition.
Established in 2008, the Cayuga Women’s Business Trust aims to assist women in entrepreneurial ventures by making collateral available to secure small-business loans, according to the website for Women TIES (Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success), an organization that works to help women entrepreneurs expand their local, state, and regional marketplace in New York.
Meyers also contributed $10,000 of her own money to acquire the business, she notes.
Attorney Samuel Giacona of Auburn served as legal counsel for the Jenna Meyers, and attorney Dennis Sedor of Auburn provided a similar service for Flaherty in the transaction, according to Meyers.
Meyers began “shadowing” Flaherty on March 1 and has been working in the store since that time, she says.
The first few weeks were “overwhelming,” Meyers says, but has since become more acclimated to her new surroundings.
“I’ve settled in. I know what I have and know where I’m going, and I think I have a pretty good handle on it,” she says.
Uniform Fashions employs two part-time workers, and Meyers has no plans to add any new employees during 2013, she maintains.
The business leases the space from Thomas Hitchcock of Farmboy Graphics, which operates in the same structure. Hitchcock has owned the building since last summer when he purchased it from Flaherty, according to Meyers.
Meyers declined to disclose the store’s revenue information but indicated she eventually hopes to boost the store’s sales 15 percent.
“It’s a pretty lofty goal, but I think I can get there,” she says.
Meyers is hoping to create a website for the store to drive revenue through ecommerce, she notes.
“That’s something that we don’t have here now,” she says.
About the business
Founded in 1972, Uniform Fashions is a retail uniform store providing clothing items which include nursing scrubs, shoes, lab coats, chef coats, uniforms for EMT workers and firefighters.
“Basically, anything for medical [personnel], restaurant [workers], fire, EMS [emergency-medical services],” Meyers says. “We’re now trying to branch into security [and] police.”
She wants to add an embroidery service, as the store provides monogramming for lab coats. Currently, The Printery of Auburn, handles the embroidering duties for the store, she says.
“So, I hope to do that in house, create revenue there,” she says, adding she also wants to enhance the store’s shoe collection.
The store’s suppliers for medical uniforms include Cherokee Uniforms, a division of Chatsworth, Calif.–based Strategic Distribution, L.P.; Gardena, Calif.–based Barco Uniforms, Inc.; and Olive Branch, Miss.–based Landau Uniforms, Inc.
Corona, Calif.–based Tact Squad provides uniforms for firefighters and emergency-medical service workers. The suppliers also include Geneva, N.Y.–based Uncommon Threads, which is a maker of chef and server coats and other apparel for restaurant workers.
In addition, the store sells uniform shoes from suppliers that include Novato, Calif.–based Birkenstock USA, L.P.; Nurse Mates, which is among the brands of Sofft Shoe Company, a division of Greenwich, Conn.–based H.H. Brown Shoe Co., Inc.; and West Grove, Pa.–based Dansko, LLC.
The store has operated in its current State Street location since 2004. Lucille Bronson launched the business on Market Street in Auburn before her daughter, Tammy Flaherty, moved it to the Auburn Plaza in Grant Avenue during the 1990s, according to Meyers.
Uniform Fashions provides on-site displays at Auburn Community Hospital and Mercy Health & Rehabilitation Center in Auburn three times per year, Meyers says.
The employees at each can purchase their uniform through a payroll-deduction system, she adds.
The store also provides uniforms for the nursing program at Cayuga Community College and for the culinary and criminal-justice classes at Cayuga-Onondaga Board of Cooperative Education Services, according to Meyers.
Meyers is a 2002 graduate of Auburn High School. She graduated from Seton Hall University in New Jersey in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in diplomacy and international relations.
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