Anytime a business can keep its doors open for a long period of time, it is something to be celebrated. One Jefferson City retailer, however, has proved its longevity, and continues to be owned and operated by the family that started it all. Saffees, a downtown tradition, is celebrating 90 years.
Owner Judy Howard said the original Saffees was started by her mother's parents, Samuel and Sadie Saffee, as a furniture store. Eventually the shop evolved, selling children's items, baby furniture, then baby clothing, and eventually women's apparel. The Saffees as we know it today prides itself on customer service and fashion forward products, with something for women of all ages.
The downtown store, located at 227 E. High St., was operated by Lorraine (Saffee) Mercurio for many years. Lorraine still comes into the store on a daily basis, and is a pillar to downtown, Howard said.
Growing up in the business, Saffees was always a part of the Mercurio way of life. Howard and her three siblings, Mark Mercurio, Steve Mercurio, and Marie Adrian all serve a different role in the family business today.
"I don't think any of us knew we were going to do anything else," Howard recalled.
She remembers the hand-written tickets, old cash registers and helping to fold statements and lick the stamps. On Christmas, the family would visit the store to tag the merchandise on sale. It was what they knew.
"We always say that our parents were feeding us the business at dinner time," Howard said.
Saffees has stood the test of time, and has even expanded throughout the years. There are currently eight stores and the siblings run the stores, including buying the merchandise. Something many people don't realize, Howard said, is that Jefferson City serves as the warehouse and distribution center for all eight stores.
Howard and brother Mark work out of the Jefferson City store, while Steve and Marie work out of Kansas City.
To celebrate 90 years in business, Saffees has been hosting a silent auction to benefit the Samaritan Center. The auction ended Saturday, and Howard said the event was fun and gave back to the community.
Celebrating throughout November, customers can still look for great specials this week.
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