“A Good Place”
Owner of Bamboo Clothiers
Ruth Guerra is in a good place.
The longest residing retailer at PGA Commons in Palm Beach Gardens opened Bamboo Clothiers 17 years ago and still enjoys the perks and challenges of running a profitable boutique store, “I love what we have here… we are meticulous.”
Petite and energetic, Ruth’s red hair and pensive blue eyes blend nicely with the colorful fabrics that decorate the walls of her shop and fill the clothing racks. She owns Bamboo Clothiers with her husband, J.J., who spent decades working for large retail companies. After relocating 14 times, while raising two sons, Ruth was eager to set up her own shop when the family returned to live in Florida for a second time in 1998. “I thought it was a good way to get J.J. to stop moving.”
A self described workaholic with the gift of gab, six day work weeks and missed vacations don’t bother Ruth who thrives on interactions with a loyal customer base. “I think I know so much about my customer, because I take a real interest in people. Nothing would be worse than someone not feeling welcome here.” She’s also learned to be flexible and allow her fashion sense to evolve, “Over the years 50 and 60-year-olds have gotten 17 years older plus there are new customers.” By far, Ruth’s greatest challenge as a retailer was the 2008 financial collapse and recession that followed, “It was a difficult time because we had goods bought and people stopped buying but we learned from it, now we make sure everything is paid for before the slow months.”
Ruth faced her greatest personal challenge when she was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 39. “I learned you just have to deal with it. I was never woe me. It’s the cards life has dealt you.” She points to her mother as an inspiration, “She raised four kids and my dad traveled a lot, she battled three kinds of cancer, she had strong faith and was just a wonderful person.”
These days, Ruth is content to focus on her blessings which include enjoying South Florida’s warm climate and beautiful beaches and embracing friends and family. “I’m happily married for 38 years, 2 great kids, great friends and my store is profitable.” Her daily mission is to beat last year’s numbers at the store and she says that competitive streak has brought her great satisfaction. “Success is when you are happy because you’ve met your goals. I’ve always told my boys, pick a job you love because you’re going to do it for a long time.” Her boys, Chris, 33 and Benton, 29, picked careers in sales which their mom says is a natural fit. “My father was in retail in the shoe business and J.J. and I could write a book about sales and retail.”
It all makes sense to this Tennessee native whose slight southern drawl and warm hospitality make customers know they too have arrived at a good place.
F – French fries or tater tots? French fries
R – Right brained or left brained? Left brained
E – Email or carrier pigeon? Email
S – Sunshine or moonlight? Sunshine
H– Homebody or party animal? Toss up!