A Picket Fence refreshes look, stays true to its customers

Replacing antique bar with an industrial-looking sales counter opens up more walkable space in store

Staff writerApril 2, 2014 

After 21 years in business, A Picket Fence in downtown Sumner has welcomed the 21st century as it remodeled with a more sleek, clean and airy design.

“I felt like if I were to refresh the store, now was the time,” owner LuAnn Iselin said.

Gone is the antique bar and sales counter that graced a large portion of the space for the lifetime of the store and complemented the antique products it once featured. It’s been replaced with a smaller, industrial cash wrap made of corrugated metal, which also provides a foundation to the building’s original windows that date back to the early 1920s.

“These are cool applications in the use of metal,” Iselin said.

Longtime customers will still enjoy the original wood flooring, as well as the myriad clothes, shoes, handbags and candy for which the store is known.

The store’s business cards feature a slogan: accents, accessories and attitude.

Iselin said it’s very true.

“We have a real great attitude,” she said.

Iselin founded her store in June 1993. Right out the gate, she personalized customers’ experiences.

“I make it a point to know customers’ names and know them on a personnel level,” she said.

Iselin said she strives to hire employees that have the same attitude. She said she guarantees customers will receive a positive greeting within 30 seconds of entering the store.

Iselin has dubbed her store Cheers for women. There are many opportunities for customers to enjoy after hours events.

Featured in A Picket Fence is about 30 lines of American-made products. Iselin said she does her research when she selects American companies. For those that have manufacturing plants overseas, Iselin said she personally visits them to ensure employees are treated well.

“Between January and March, I’m traveling as much as I’m here,” Iselin said. “I’ve traveled to China, Indonesia, Taiwan, Dubai and Qatar to seek new product lines.”

One of the store’s signature lines is Leegin Creative Leather, based in southern California. Iselin describes the owner, Jerry Kohl, as “the most intelligent, industrious and kindest” vendor.

“I’ve been to his factory in China,” Iselin said. “He has only the highest standards. He incentivizes his employees to the max. I think he has changed the entire formula in China.”

Apart from fashion, Iselin also features 100 different jars of candies. A customer favorite is the licorice, so much so that one who moved from Sumner to Charlotte, N.C., requests a regular shipment of it.

During its 21-year history, A Picket Fence has become a destination store. Deborah Gunter of Shelton travels 1 1/2 hours to drive to Iselin’s store. And she loves it.

“It’s very customer service-oriented,” Gunter said. “They were able to order something I wanted.”

Gunter liked the new look of the store.

“It’s easier to get around,” she said.

Iselin said every aisle is handicap accessible, now that the antique bar has been removed.

“The goal is to keep it that way and not crowd every passageway,” she said.

In the coming months, Iselin plans to modernize the outdoor patio in the back lot. That’s where she hosts many after-hours and charity events. Nonprofit organizations can reserve the space for charity events and receive a percentage of the net proceeds, Iselin said.

She also thanked the City of Sumner and the Sumner Downtown Association for their support.

“Sumner is a great environment to have a store,” Iselin said. “We’re a delightful little town where people like to have that small American town experience.”

IF YOU GO

A Picket Fence is located at 1006 Main St. in Sumner. For more information, call 253-863-6048 or visit www.apicketfence.com. The store also can be found on Facebook.

Andrew Fickes: 253-552-7001 andrew.fickes @puyallupherald.com Twitter: @herald_andrew

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