Shop owner continues Senoia family tradition
by Clay Neely - email@example.com
As a lifelong resident of Senoia, Cathie Pollard-Kirkland freely admits that she’s seen it all — watching the once small town grow and thrive into a prosperous and desirable place to both live and work.
As the owner of Chloe’s on Main, Pollard-Kirkland’s boutique specializes in baby apparel, children's clothing, women's clothing, gifts, accessories, and doll clothes. Doing business in Senoia is a family tradition for Pollard-Kirkland. Her father, J.T. Pollard, owned the very first Gulf station in Senoia, and in 1979, Kirkland opened The Lazy Daisy with her sister.
“My momma (Francis Pollard) is my hero,” Pollard-Kirkland said. “She’s everything to me and it’s why running Chloe’s is such an important part of my life. It feels like I’ve come full circle.”
Prior to Chloe’s, she spent 20 years in the car sales industry in management.
Chloe’s originally started in Sharpsburg as an antique store, then moved to Warm Springs where the emphasis was placed on home decor. Then, one day, she was shopping in Senoia at Magnolia Lane, looking for something special for her daughter-in-law’s baby shower.
“I went in looking for a gift and came out owning the store,” Pollard-Kirkland said. “It wasn’t my intention, but I love it.”
Even with an extensive background in the world of automotive sales and management, Pollard-Kirkland admits this is the hardest and demanding job she’s ever had.
With the varying sizes and styles for both boys and girls, ranging from infant to 7 years of age, Pollard-Kirkland gladly rises to the challenge of keeping each one of her customers happy.
“These mommies are some of the toughest customers you’ll find,” she said. “I’m constantly working. If I’m not in the store, I’m on the computer, trying to find out what the newest thing is. People might get emails from me at two in the morning but things have to get done.”
And her diligence is warranted. Pollard-Kirkland has set a standard for Chloe’s and refuses to carry anything that could be found in a box store.
“If you can buy it at Babies ‘R Us, you won’t find it at Chloe’s,” she said. “That takes a lot of work and I have to listen to what these mommas want. My youngest son is 34 and things have changed quite a bit since then.”
So how does Pollard-Kirkland keep up with what her customers want?
“I watch Shark Tank,” Pollard-Kirkland laughed. “All the mothers will flat out tell me what they’re looking for along with posting things on our wall on Facebook. Going through the ‘temporaries’ at the Childrens World Expo is another good way for finding the latest items.”
However, if a customer asks Pollard-Kirkland about a product, she won’t rest until she can hunt it down, spending hours scouring the Internet until she is satisfied.
“There’s such a demand from these mommas,” Pollard-Kirkland said. “I’m the only store on the south side of Atlanta. There’s not a baby store in Coweta, Fayette or Spalding County.”
As a blue ribbon Mud Pie dealer, Pollard-Kirkland feels that an achievement like that is a strong indicator that she’s moving in the right direction.
“I try my best to use Georgia companies,” Pollard-Kirkland said. “Mud Pie, Burton & Burton, I do my best to carry only U.S. products. I feel that it’s very important.”
Pollard-Kirkland also prefers to do business with primarily small companies. “If you get into big, corporate companies, you’re not going to get that personal relationship,” Pollard-Kirkland said. “Even though Mud Pie is huge, I can still reach the CEO with ease.”
Pollard-Kirkland feels that keeping her customers involved in the business plays an important role in the continued success of Chloe’s.
Chloe’s will host several “Doll Parties” for local children at Matt’s Smalltown Pizza. “My sister is a nurse and will give the dolls a checkup, tell them if they’re healthy or have boo-boo’s, and she loves it,” she said.
The store also hosts a semi-annual “Girls’ Night Out” party for the mothers who frequent the store. Clothing companies will showcase a new line of clothing for her customers to preview and also purchase on the spot.
While her role at Chloe’s warrants an extremely arduous work schedule, Pollard-Kirkland feels that she wouldn’t want to change anything and owning her own business is extremely rewarding.
“I love my babies,” Pollard-Kirkland said. “We’ve been open for two-and-a-half years now, so I’ve been able to watch the newborns turn into little people and it’s so wonderful to watch them grow up. They all know my name and it melts your heart.”
“If I could give any advice to someone starting a small business, it's to be prepared for lots of hard work and pick something you are passionate about,” she said. “The rewards are not monetary, so it has to be something you love and enjoy doing.” When asked about future goals, Pollard-Kirkland admits that they are subject to change on a daily basis.
“Your goals are something you have to look at every day,” she said. “I would love to have a bigger store, but there are so many ideas that you have to keep evolving.” Pollard-Kirkland’s roots run deep in Senoia and the town means everything to her.
“You know, your hometown is always where your heart’s at,” she said. “My dad, J. T. Pollard, had the first Gulf station here. Both he and my mom always had businesses and they did everything together. I don’t think I realized how much it meant to me until I opened my own store.”
The memories of Senoia remain vivid in Pollard-Kirkland mind. “I remember Senoia being such a small town. I have a picture made with Santa at Holberg’s. I think about the all the things that my momma and daddy did here and it gives me a lot of pride and I live what they instilled in me.”
In her mind, failure is not an option.
“I just can’t allow my business to fail. I have to live up to what my momma and daddy would expect,” she said. “I guess I have that pride, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”