Continuing The Holiday Legacy

The Holiday, a Mobile institution steeped in memories, opens under a new generation of owners.

Sarah Thomas, left, and Mary-Lacey Rogers Zeiders are eager to dress their mannequins with high-end, relevant and feminine apparel. Photos by Elizabeth Gelineau

She blames her mom.

“I was just stopping by my mother’s house on my birthday,” Mary-Lacey Rogers Zeiders says. Her hands were full, she was in a rush and her leashed dog was impatiently yanking her toward the door. That’s when Mandy Rogers, who was on the phone, posed a seemingly preposterous question to her daughter: “Do you have any interest in buying the Holiday?” Mary-Lacey, the then-executive director of The Steeple and mom of twin toddlers, laughed and said, “I’m going to dinner, Mom. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.’” But Mary-Lacey didn’t wait until “tomorrow” to think about it.

Sarah Thomas, on the other hand, had already been thinking about buying the Holiday. Sarah, owner of the gift shop, Collective, which sat adjacent to the legendary Spring Hill boutique, had been approached several times about her interest in purchasing. “I wanted to do it, but I didn’t want to do it alone,” she says, now seated with Mary-Lacey amidst mannequins and boxes of inventory. “I needed a partner, someone I could trust. I just happened to be talking to Mary-Lacey’s mom on the phone that night, and one thing led to another.”

The Original Call

Situated atop the small hill near the intersection of Old Shell Road and McGregor Avenue sits a Mobile institution, one that has quietly watched the hustle and bustle from the shade of the old oaks for the past four decades. Since 1977, Holiday, Inc., has called this knoll home. But the story of the Holiday, as it’s familiarly called, goes even further back.

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It all started with another phone call, this one in 1955, from Ruby West Twitty to two of her friends, sisters Dorothy Haas Myers and Donna Bea Feore. The women, looking to fill a void in women’s fashion, opened Holiday, Inc., at Portier Place on the campus of Spring Hill College. It’s said that the business fulfilled such a need that it drew customers from as far west as Mississippi and as far north as Brewton.

The shop wasn’t just special because it was the first of its kind in the area. As Jolane Edwards, wife of former U.S. Rep. Jack Edwards, put it in 1963, “Holiday, Inc., is not just another dress shop to West Mobilians — it is a way of life. A happy and carefree life it is, too, for the Holiday is aptly named. A true holiday atmosphere prevails in this tiny-tremendous shop.” In 1977, the shoppers’ respite relocated to its current location on Old Shell Road, where it still serves as anchor of the Holiday Place, a walkable collection of shops and businesses.

The 1977 announcement for the opening of Holiday, Inc., at its new location.

The ‘80s Called

“I remember my first job at the store,” Katie Key recalls. “I was maybe 5 or 6, and my Nana, Donna Bea Feore, would pay me to pick up straight pins from the carpet.” The Holiday became a second home for Katie, with her grandmother as an owner and her mother, Cornelia Zieman Feore, a soon-to-be second-generation owner.

In 1985, ownership passed from the original three to Nancy Gibson Brock, Perry Feore Stewart and the aforementioned Cornelia. “Mom enjoyed interacting with all ages at the shop,” Katie says.

“Oh, I loved every minute of it,” Cornelia agrees. “It was a wonderful place to work. I always liked fashion anyway.”

The type of clothes offered over the years has varied. A 2005 Holiday, Inc., newsletter reveals plaid pouf skirts, metallic embroidery, satin gowns and halter necklines were fashion-forward. But no matter the years’ styles or the business’s owners, three things have remained consistent for 64 years: quality products, an inviting atmosphere and customer loyalty.

Calling All Shoppers

“I’ve been peeking in the window,” a retired Cornelia admits. Katie’s been peeking through the new storefront windows, too. Scrawled across the large glass panes are the words: The Legend. The Legacy. Reimagined. According to Mary-Lacey and Sarah, the newest owners of the now-officially branded The Holiday, the phrase isn’t just a catchy sentiment. “The Holiday is a legacy, it’s a legend, and everybody knows it and has some sort of connection,” Mary-Lacey explains, adding that her grandmother, Tippy Hamel, has worked at the store for 32 years. “We have no intention of getting rid of that feeling and that vibe.”

“I want people to feel better walking out the door than they did when they entered,” Sarah adds. “Don’t be afraid to just browse and not buy anything.” This welcome atmosphere certainly mirrors Katie’s childhood memories. “People would just come in to visit,” she says. “Sometimes people just want to be told things are going to be OK or to share the good news of a new grandchild.”

“We’re not going anywhere,” Mary-Lacey says adamantly. “We’re making decisions based on the fact that in 50 years, we will still be here. The Holiday needs to always be here for Mobile.”

In the end, perhaps it’s not Mandy’s fault after all. Perhaps it’s serendipity. The Holiday seems to have a magical way of stringing together the generations all by itself.

The Holiday Grand Re-Opening

Thursday, August 22, 20195:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
We are joining forces with The Holiday to celebrate their grand re-opening in style! Mark your calendars for the big fete, complete with champagne, snacks and a peek at their fabulous new space!

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