Gowanda business owner to retire

GOWANDA – One of the buildings in Gowanda’s downtown business community will be closing its door, as usual, at the end of this month. Once the Attic Place opens in the fall, there will be a new owner. Current owner Pattie Bruehl will be retiring.

Bruehl opened the business in 1981 in Gowanda. She had previously moved between New York and Alaska for her husband’s career but finally settled into Cattaraugus County. She said consignment shops have come a long way since first opening.

“I needed a job,” joked Bruehl. “That was my idea, to have a place you could be proud to walk into, proud to see your friends at and not be embarrassed to be in. I always made sure it was perfectly up to order. … Where people could come to buy quality items at very reasonable prices. I wanted to present to my customers a wonderful shopping experience, a friendly atmosphere and a variety of items for the young to the old.”

Bruehl said she decided to retire when she wanted to cut back on hours. She called consignment a “volume business” and said it’s not feasible to only be open a few days per week.

“You have to either step back or continue. I decided it was time to step back. … As you get older things start to change.

“Your brain is still going but your body is getting tired. Sooner or later, all of a sudden, I won’t be able to carry things up the stairs. I want to leave before that happens,” she said.

Throughout the three decades of the store being open, Bruehl has made many changes to the building. When she first rented the location, the store occupied the first floor with apartments upstairs. Following the purchase of the building, Bruehl expanded her business to the second floor. At the business, she prices clothing and items competitively among the other retail stores in the area.

“As I’ve been here the Ames store came and went out. The Walmart in Springville and Fredonia moved in. As I’ve been here all these things have happened so you pay attention to your market and your prices. The styles have to be the styles that you would go to Maurices to buy… I have those high end (items) because I have so many consignors. People like to come here because it’s a little bit of everything.”

The business will stay open under new owner, LouAnn Mohawk in the fall. Bruehl has worked with Mohawk for over 20 years and the running of the business will continue as is.

“We’ve been here for so long, people don’t want things to change because they like the way it is. (Mohawk) will add her own touches but as it stands as it does now, is how it will be,” Bruehl said. “LouAnn knows the business of resale and to me is the best person to have … in charge and responsible to keep the dream alive, of course with the help of our shoppers and consignors. “

The Attic Place will reopen in September for the fall season. Bruehl will still be at the store on a part-time basis to help with a “seamless transition.” She said she will be there to introduce customers or consignors to Mohawk and anything else Mohawk may need. Bruehl said she is not sure what she will be doing following stepping back from the business. She said it may take a while to get used to having free time.

“When you own your own business, it’s not like working for somebody. You’re not a 9 to 5. You are responsible … you do everything. On your weekends, you don’t goof off and relax, it never ends,” she said. “It will probably take me quite a while where I don’t do that anymore. I was 36 when I started this and my whole business life has been doing this. I can’t even imagine the next step except that I know … I’ll end up doing something.”

The Attic Place will close for the season on June 29 and will reopen under Mohawk on Sept. 10. To thank all the customers, consignors and supporters for the business. The appreciation party will be held on Sunday, July 14 at the Coach Inn on Route 353 located outside Little Valley. The party will start at 3 p.m. with music from 4 to 8 p.m. by the Ozone Rangers. There will be food, a cash bar and children’s activities. The party will be outside so attendees are asked to bring chairs.

Comments on this article may be sent to smcdonnell@observertoday.com.