Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Tara Mullin remembers running around her dad, Kurt Moon's store as a little girl. Likely, she says, getting the employees in trouble. Today, Mullin still is running around Brown's Shoe Fit, but this time as the boss.
She, along with Whitney Rogers, are both taking over their fathers' businesses and continuing a legacy of customer service and community support.
Mullin grew up in the business, but she never officially worked for her dad until a few years ago. 'I was in banking before that and he approached me about coming on board and taking over,” Mullin recalled.
Although the offer was great, it wasn't an immediate, 'yes.”
'I had to think about it. I had a really great job at a company that treated me very well and my husband is a farmer so that meant two self-employed people,” she said with a chuckle. 'But really, all in all, it was absolutely the right thing to do and definitely a place I feel at home and feel like it's a really good fit.”
Rogers had a similar reaction when her father, Mike Henderson, asked if she would be interested in taking over his business at Edward Jones.
Rogers, who was also born and raised in Mt. Pleasant, had always dreamed of working at Disney. After earning her degree in hospitality management she began working for Disney in Florida. She met her husband and eventually had their son, Will. For the couple, it was important to raise their son in a small town.
'We knew the Lord would provide an opportunity,” she said.
That opportunity came by way of her father.
'My dad approached me almost four years ago now about coming to work for Edward Jones,” she said.
The business was something she was familiar with. Not only did her father work at Edward Jones, so did her brother. But she wasn't too excited about the prospect at first. 'I didn't know if I could do it,” she explained.
Her dad did, though.
'He said, ‘Whitney, this is something I know you can do and I want you to do.'”
At that point, she realized this was the opportunity she and her husband had been waiting for the Lord to provide. So, in 2017, the Rogers moved to Mt. Pleasant.
For both women, working beside their fathers, learning the business has been an amazing experience.
'Quite honestly, it's an honor for my father to ask me to do this. No pun intended, it's big shoes to fill,” Mullin said.
For the past two-and-a-half years, Mullin has been learning the inner-workings of the business.
'I knew how to sell shoes, but I needed to learn the inner-workings and bookwork,” she said. 'It was really following in Kurt's footsteps and having him guide me.”
Over the past year, Mullins has taken over all the bookwork and buying.
'That gives you ownership in the business,” she said of deciding what to stock the store with. 'You're trying to buy what you think the community wants.”
For Rogers, saying 'yes” to her dad gave her the first real glimpse at what he did day-to-day for nearly 36 years. As a financial adviser, much of what her father did every day was confidential.
'For 35 years he wasn't able to tell about his day,” she said.
Working with her father gave her the opportunity to not only hear about his day, but to experience it with him. 'I will cherish that time together,” she said.
Henderson officially retired on Sept. 30. It was a gradual transition, Rogers said. Her dad would come in fewer and fewer days a week as she took over more of the day-to-day operations. It not only allowed her to grow more confident in her new career path, it also gave Henderson the chance to get ready to retire.
'Retirement can be a difficult transition for anyone. Immediately closing that door on what you've done for so many years … this gave him a trial retirement,” she said.
Mullin and Moon are now in that phase. Moon had worked six days a week for most of his career. Now, Mullin says, she's got her dad down to coming in five days a week, and soon it'll be four days. Moon retires on Dec. 31.
Rogers and Mullin are not only excited for this next chapter of their careers, as business owners, but for their peers.
'We've kind of had this resurgence of kids coming back to town, or deciding to change careers and take over mom or dad's business in town. Things like having Jeff Fedler with Pep Stop or Whitney taking over Edward Jones, that's a huge deal,” said Mullin. 'Seeing this next generation of business owners and entrepreneurs, I think it really says a lot about the Mt. Pleasant community. All of those people mentioned, including myself all have young families and raising them here means a lot.”
Rogers agreed. 'If you ever asked me in high school if I'd spend my adult years in Mt. Pleasant I probably would have told you no. But it means so much to me, now having a child of my own, to raise him in this amazing town.”
'It's cool to be among the next generation, seeing all of us together wanting to continue this place that raised us so that it is just as amazing for our kids and generations to come,” she added.
And for Mullin, one of the things she's looking forward to as she becomes the owner of Browns Shoe Fit is seeing her kids running around the same store she once did.
'I have a lot of flashbacks to my childhood,” she said looking around the store. 'Now my kids are there, seeing what it takes.”