By Debbie Flessner
Lorry Eible was a single mother of two young boys when she made a bold decision to move her little family from New Jersey to Sarasota, Florida.
She may have been young, but she was not naïve about running her own business. Lorry was a third generation hair stylist, and had owned a large salon/boutique for about eight years, when a friend of hers asked if she wanted to go with her to visit Florida.
“A girlfriend had discovered Lido Beach and brought me here on vacation for two weeks,” she said. “I knew then that I was going to move here.”
In 1972, her sons were 4 and 8 ½, so she moved into what was considered to be a child-friendly condominium off of Fruitville Road. Within about three months, Lorry had figured out that it wasn’t going to work for them there, so she began to think about moving someplace else in town.
She says at that time, she didn’t even know about Siesta Key—she had been spending most of her beach time out on Lido Key.
“I took a drive and saw a sign for Siesta Key, so I followed it,” Lorry said. “I came out here and was just amazed. I was also surprised that none of the Realtors had even shown me a house here, but I ended up buying a house for $45,000 on the water.”
Her boys quickly adapted to the island life, enjoying boating on the canal they lived on and visiting Siesta Village, plus, they were attending school at the Out of Door Academy right down the street. Having worked her whole life, though, Lorry became restless and knew she wanted to get back in business for herself.
One day, she was walking on Ocean Blvd., in Siesta Village, and she saw a run-down building with a For Sale sign on it. There was a scruffy man sitting out in front of the building with a table full of fly-covered chicken wings he was trying to sell, but Lorry was intrigued at the thought of buying the building, so she stopped to talk to him.
“It really looked like a condemned building,” she said. “I asked the guy who the owner was, and he told me that it was a Mr. Dickson, from Ohio, so I called him. I closed on the building on my son’s birthday—October 23, 1972.”
Lorry named her new boutique “Foxy Lady,” because at that time, the Jimi Hendrix classic single was very popular. The building was actually a former house, so in each room of the “house,” Lorry featured different items. For instance, one room displayed blouses and tops, another had bathing suits and tennis wear and upstairs was where she had prom dresses and evening wear.
During the 10 years Foxy Lady operated in that location, many young Sarasota women shopped there for their prom dresses. One of those young ladies was Lori Ann Steiner, who is now an owner/partner/manager of the Siesta Key Foxy Lady.
“I was working with Estee Lauder after high school,” Lori Ann said. “A friend of mine had been working for Foxy Lady for about six months and suggested to Lorry that she give me a call to see if I wanted to work there, too. At first I turned her down, to stay at the job I had, but I eventually came over in 1982.”
That was also the year that Lorry’s husband John Walter built a brand new building for the store on Beach Road, just around the corner from Ocean Blvd. The new site had much more space, and the business began to grow. Two years after that John found an old gas station for sale on St. Armands Circle, and after some extensive renovation, it became Foxy Lady St. Armands Circle, the second location for the store.
Since then, the name Foxy Lady has become synonymous with stylish clothes and accessories, and exceptional customer service. Lorry says that it’s not an accident that hers has been a successful business lasting 47 years.
“What we do right is that we really do it all,” she said. “People want to look cute, it doesn’t matter what age you are. We pride ourselves in not getting stuck in what other people are buying, and we’re not label buying. We buy things because they look great.”
When Lorry and Lori Ann go to apparel markets, they will many times have particular clients in mind, as they are buying items for the store. They say they make it a point to know what styles are trending, and bring clothes and accessories into the store that will appeal to people of all ages. Foxy Lady now has casual and dressier apparel, shoes, and accessories like purses, belts and jewelry. A large evening wear selection can be found at the St. Armands location.
Both women said that they feel the big advantage to shopping in a small, locally-owned boutique is that personalized service that the Foxy Lady staff provides.
“We concentrate on what we know and we’re always thinking about how we can best help the customers,” Lori Ann said. “We are really the only boutique out here on Siesta Key, and we have a very loyal fan base at this store, both with locals and those who live here part-time.”
As a small, privately owned business, Lorry, Lori Ann and their staff really act more as personal shoppers than retail employees. Though the store is packed with merchandise, every staff member knows exactly what is there and precisely where to find it. Lorry says that she loves for customers to come in and give her a general idea of what they’re looking for and then seeing the shock on the customer’s face when she hits the nail on the head and presents them with the sought after piece in about two seconds.
That intimate relationship with their clientele, plus the incredible sales they all look forward to, is what keeps the loyal Foxy Lady customers coming back time after time, and year after year.
Within that retail community, the day after Thanksgiving Reverse Sale is the stuff of legends. Both the Siesta Key and the St. Armands stores open up early, at 8 a.m., and up until 10 a.m., many of the racks of clothing are sold at 50% off the price. From 10 a.m. to noon, items are 40% off and from noon to closing time (6 p.m. on Siesta and 7 p.m. on St. Armands) clothes on those racks are offered at 30% off.
Though Lorry has owned the Foxy Lady for 47 years now, which is almost a lifetime to be at one job, she says that she can’t foresee a time when she wouldn’t want to do it. For her, the perfect store experience is one where she or one of her staff can help a customer find the absolute perfect thing—something that makes her think, “Wow, I really look good.”
Even so, this career she has built for herself has already gone on much longer than she originally planned.
“Back in 1972, I thought I would do this for about five years,” she said, laughing. “Never did I think it would be forever.”
Foxy Lady Siesta Key is located at 209 Beach Road, and is open Monday through Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Foxy Lady St. Armands Circle is at 481 John Ringling Blvd. It’s open Monday through Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday, from noon to 5:30 p.m. Call the Siesta Key store at 941-349-6644 and the St. Armands store at 941-388-5239. For more information, visit https://www.foxyladysarasota.com/.