Eight years ago, when Larry’s parents, Billy and Nell Crowson of Sulphur Springs, got ready to retire and appoint new owners of LouNell’s Fashions, the opportunity lay right at Carrie’s feet.
“It wasn’t an easy decision. We prayed on it and hoped it would be the right fit for our family, especially since we had children in school,” said Carrie, a kindergarten school teacher at the time. “My husband continues to have his day job as an engineer, and the store is my place now.”
The name may have derived from Larry’s mother, but for Sulphur Springs, LouNell’s is more than just a Cinderella story when it comes to fashion. Carrie and her staff of seven go above and beyond to offer very special service to their customers.
“We have a sign, ‘Enter a customer, leave a friend,’ and we live by it,” said Carrie, born and raised in Sulphur Springs. “We are very laid back when it comes to sales. We like the atmosphere to be one of a social gathering of sorts. Visit and enjoy coffee. Our customers know we will go the extra length for them.”
LouNell’s has apparel selections for women and junior sizes, supplying fashion for 15-year-olds to 98 years. Looking for casual or after 5 looks? This is the shop that has just that and more, including blue jeans, shirts, pajamas, undergarments, accessories, shoes and dresses. Keeping up with the latest fashions, they carry reversible clothing called Multiples, and for the younger shoppers, Miss Me jeans. With the current weather, their stylish, colorful rubber boots have been selling off the shelf to the tune of 100 pair in a week, Carrie explained.
“Our most popular item is the Pandora jewelry. It is really big for us,” Carrie said on the demand for charm bracelets especially over the Valentine’s Day holiday. “Overall, sales have been great. We are very blessed.”
At LouNell’s, customers receive free alterations, free gift wrap, delivery and special orders. It’s done the way it has always been done – not with computers or fancy pricing guns – but by hand, and with care.
“We are still ‘old-school’ because we still hand-write all of our tickets and hand-tag all of our merchandise without computers,” Carrie said noting the respect this business has earned through 38 years. “We even take deliveries to the nursing homes, and we provide style shows for the local clubs.”
Carrie explained that her boutique has established traditions with many of the local clubs. For example, every year LouNell’s provides a style show for the Junior Waverly Club at Valentine’s, often using customers as models.
Over the years, the boutique has undergone some changes. It was originally located on Main Street, and there was a second additional store in Shannon Square before relocating to one store on Lee Street which expanded to the current location. However, the difference isn’t just the location and the owners, but the employees, too. Carrie attributes her success in the business to the good people that have shown her the way. Some of her employees have been working at LouNell’s longer than she has.
“I have very good help,” Carrie said noting the reliance on her staff, with one employee dedicating the past 30 years to the boutique. “We are a family whether we are related or not. We celebrate birthdays and really enjoy working together.”
In the past eight years, Carrie has gained the trust of her clientele—in big ways, many rely on her fashion sense from putting together outfits or helping match clothing with a customer’s coloring to the little ways of helping with buttons in the fitting room.
“We give one-on-one service to our customers,” said Carrie in hopes someday that she has a granddaughter interested in pursuing the family business.
LouNell’s Fashions is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and accepts cash, checks and all credit cards except American Express.
LouNell’s Fashions is located at 122 Lee Street, Sulphur Springs and offers a mailing list. To contact the boutique, call (903) 885-0664.