Ashlee’s Place to close end of June after 33 years in Medina

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 12 June 2024 at 4:20 pm

Angela Waldriff built successful business that withstood Walmart, online retailers and Covid

Photos by Tom Rivers: Angela Waldriff, owner of Ashlee’s Place at 116 East Center St., announced she will be closing the business the end of this month.

MEDINA – Angela Waldriff built a women’s clothing business in a small town and withstood the challenges from Walmart and Big Box stores, the emergence of online retailing, and the challenges of Covid, when the business was closed to in-store customers for about 10 weeks and then had to try to keep customers at least six feet apart.

Waldriff has decided to close Ashlee’s Place the end of this month. The reason: she wants warmer weather and is moving to South Carolina.

“It’s the next stage of my life,” she said at the store, located at 116 East Center St. “It’s time for a change.”

Waldriff has owned and managed the store for 33 years. She started Ashlee’s in 1991 when she was 29. She is often inside Ashlee’s, helping customers find the right outfit.

Waldriff has the business next to the former Corky’s Bakery, which was run by her late father Corky van den Bosch, and her late brothers Dennis and Jeff.

Her father was a role model as a entrepreneur. He also had Corky’s Bakery & Snack Bar in Albion (at the former Apollo Restaurant) and in Lockport.

Waldriff grew up working in the bakery. After college, she was employed at stores in malls in Rochester and Buffalo. She wanted to be in Medina close to home, especially when she had children. When her two sons were babies, she had them with her while she ran Ashlee’s.

Although Medina remains a busy downtown, Waldriff said it was even more bustling when she started her career. There were several stores for clothes and shoes. The businesses together were a big draw, she said.

Gradually, most have closed and have been replaced by other businesses. Waldriff believes Ashlee’s is the second-oldest retailer in the downtown, behind Blissett’s.

Angela Waldriff said she has enjoyed meeting her customers and being in Medina’s downtown. Her store is next to the former Corky’s Bakery, which was run by her father and brothers.

Waldriff is a volunteer business advisor with SCORE, and she tries to help new entrepreneurs flesh out business plans and develop a marketing strategy. For Ashlee’s, she sends monthly newsletters to her customers, highlighting new inventory, deals and some of what’s going on in her life.

On Facebook, she posts pictures on some of the dresses, blouses, pants and other clothing items. Brielle Lederhouse, a store employee for six years, often models the clothes in the Facebook posts. Many customers will see those posts and order the clothes, and Waldriff will ship the items. It’s one way she’s been able to compete with the online retailers.

Ashlee’s has regular promotions during the year, including in May when a portion of the sales go towards breast cancer awareness and research.

Waldriff used to go to New York City twice a year on clothes-buying trips, but she hasn’t done that in nearly a decade. Now the companies send her photos of what’s available.

Waldriff would rotate her stock four times a year. She would purchase inventory with her customers in mind, thinking of what they like and how the clothes would look on them.

“You have to know who that person is who steps into your store,” Waldriff said. “You have to know their taste, their price range. It can’t be what you would wear. You have to know who your person is.”

Waldriff said she will miss her customers, many who have been dedicated to Ashlee’s for years.

“I’ve become good friends with so many,” Waldriff said. “We’ve been through so many things together.”