Olympia’s Drees perseveres after more than 90 years

Jan 14, 2021
Written by wpengine

For owner Ruthann Goularte, owner of downtown Olympia’s Drees store, the Christmas holiday was “a very sweet season both psychologically and financially.”

Earlier in the year, coronavirus pandemic protocols had closed the quality home décor and accessories store that is one of the oldest independent retailers operating in the nation. The store has been downtown since 1929.

Goularte, the store’s third owner with her husband David, weathered the first half of the year with trepidation because of a mandated closure meant to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. But as retailers gradually were allowed to reopen, her generations of loyal customers did not forget Drees.

Customers came streaming back and helped Goularte realize a much-needed robust gain in fourth-quarter sales.

Goularte and her staff insist on creating positive customer experiences. Over the years, Goularte’s commitment to customer service has helped Drees earn a regional appeal as well as within the Olympia area.

“We do take care of people, we love what we do,” she said. “We strive to create a very positive experience.”

Goularte was recently elected as a member of the Washington Retail Board of Directors. “I’m a newbie,” she quipped.

But at the store, customers remembered and rewarded Goularte’s 45 years of ownership and commitment to quality merchandise and customer service in perhaps her toughest year in business. It was a heartfelt sign of her customers’ appreciation and loyalty as they helped Goularte save a very challenging year for business.

“People were so appreciative of the fact we were here for Christmas with our Holiday décor and spirit,” she said. “And we were equally appreciative of their support.”