A well-known Proctor business district merchant and civic leader is retiring and closing her gift store after more than two dozen years in the retail business in Proctor.
Judi Quilici told fellow Proctor merchants in a letter this week that she’s closing down Giardini Gift Store at 3815 N. 26th Street at the end of March. The store’s closure will end 34 successful years in the gift business for Quilici, who owned and operated the Stadium business district’s Connoisseur Shop for 10 years before opening her Proctor shop.
Giardini Gift Store
“I’ll be 74 next year, and I think it’s time to move on and do something else,” she said.
Quilici, who was instrumental in seeking grant funds to several major Proctor district improvement projects and who played a key role in the district’s merchant association, said she intends to remain active in the district.
“There are still a few projects that need to be done,” she said.
The store is holding a closeout sale with 30 percent off storewide and 50 percent on holiday merchandise to clear out its inventory.
The 4,000-square foot store won’t be closed long. An Olympia merchant, Compass Rose, plans to open his second store in the Giardini space after remodeling.
“Compass Rose approached us,” said Quilici, “because they had always wanted to have a presence in Proctor.”
Quilici’s career wasn’t always in retailing.
After graduating from the University of Idaho with a major in home economics, she taught briefly and then headed to Florida where she spent eight years as the executive director of the Florida Dairy Council in Miami.
She returned to the Northwest to become an extension agent and assistant professor with Washington State University’s Puyallup operation.
Her merchant career began in 1979 when she bought the 40-year-old Connoisseur Shop in the Stadium District. She sold that business a decade later.
During her more than three decades in retailing, Quilici said she learned to keep a watchful eye on trends and customer tastes.
“I think you have to listen to your customers and carry a variety of items at different prices,” she said. A successful merchant will gradually introduce trending merchandise and watch customer response.
When Quilici first opened Giardini (Garden in Italian), she heavily stocked up on fancy garden tools then available only by mail order from such merchants as Smith & Hawken.
But when the mass merchants began stocking some of the same items, she said, she began cutting back.
“Once the big retailers begin selling the same merchandise, the time in your store is done,” she said.
Even experience and careful selection, she said, can’t always insulate a retailer from making an unfortunate selection of merchandise, she said.
“One year feather wreaths were hot. I ordered about $3,000 worth. And then the bird flu hit, and customers shunned them,” she said.
Quilici said she intends to catch up on some overdue work at home after her retirement from retailing. And then she and her husband Joe have a trip planned to Italy next fall.
Both she and her husband, whose family roots reach back to Italy, recently obtained dual Italian-American citizenship.