Denison’s store to close

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, April 13, 2017

A ladies’ clothing store that has been in business for 60 years plans to close on May 21.

The manager and owner of Denison’s, sisters Cecelia Strickland and Candy Lewis, will close up shop after having run the business for 16 years. Strickland said high rent and the rise of online shopping helped them make the decision.


“Online shopping has just killed the business,” Strickland said. “We just don’t feel the business is as big as it used to be because of online shopping.”

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Strickland has worked at the business for 46 years, since the age of 15. The shop’s founder, Eugene Denison, hired her and had her start work on the spot.

Strickland’s first sale was a white suit for Easter, along with matching shoes and handbag. The sale totaled hundreds of dollars.

“Mr. Denison said, ‘You’re a keeper,’” Strickland recalled fondly. “He just taught me how to handle the customer.”

Denison said recently that he started the store in 1957. Business was booming — at the time, there were 13 stores in downtown Suffolk that sold ladies’ clothing, Denison recalled.

When Denison decided to sell the store, he approached Strickland first. She called her sister, Candy Lewis, who had been in banking for nearly three decades, and the two went into business together. The sale was done within 24 hours.


Lewis handled the books, and Strickland did the buying and helping customers.

“We have such good customers,” Strickland said. “I thank them for everything they’ve done for the store. My heart has a big hole in it, not seeing them anymore.”

Strickland said her favorite part of her job was dressing customers and making them happy.

“I put things on them they wouldn’t try out for themselves,” she said. “I make them happy. When I go to market, I go with my customers in my mind.”

Strickland said closing the store is sad for her and her sister, but they are trusting God for the next step in their lives.

“It’s just been a great ride,” Strickland said. “I’m letting God lead me.”