Heidi Good is the Managing Director of Goods Department Store. Heidi, who took over the reins five years from her father Vivian Good, is the third generation to run the successful family department store on High Street, Kilkenny.
Heidi admits that she took her time to find her place in life. She studied a Masters in Theology, after which she worked in a church in Cork.
However on returning home to the family business in her thirties, she knew this was what she was going to enjoy. She loves the business and always has since a childhood. In her words “I eventually found my niche, got married and it all fell into place”.
Heidi lives with her wife Fiona in Kilkenny. They have two adorable dogs Ollie and Ted, the love of their lives, and they enjoy walks with them near their home, in the Millennium Woods. The couple love gardening and Heidi especially likes woodwork.
Listeners to Kilkenny Community Radio will be familiar with Heidi’s voice on the airways, as she presents the Spirit Alive on Saturday mornings with Fr Willie Purcell.
Here is a glimpse into Heidi’s world…
Goods Department Store has been in the family for three generations. A lot has changed since it opened as a shoe shop?
WH Good Ltd, or ‘Goods of Kilkenny’ as it is known was founded by my grandfather William Henry Good in 1927. It was first opened as a small shoe shop at Number 90 High Street, where Dorothy Perkins now stands. Later the store grew and expanded to include clothing and linens.
During the Sixties my father Vivian joined the business and the expansion and development of the store continued for what was to become a five decade period. A year didn’t go by when he wasn’t knocking down walls!
He dug up, he dug down, and built up. He added the basement in 1977 to house the expanding shoe business and in the early 1990s the extension of the second floor along with the addition of a lift to service all four floors.
In 2004 Goods underwent a major refurbishment and refocusing program which saw the whole store being refitted and modernised as well as the addition of some top national and International brands. The store now focuses on fashion, lingerie, cosmetics, footwear and accessories for stylish women of all ages.
Today we have the popular Brow and Nail’s bar and our new Christmas Shop is opening soon.
I believe that some of the staff lived over the store and it was like a boarding house for some of them.
The Leaving Cert wasn’t mandatory back in the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s, so the store was like a next third level education for the new staff. They came to work and stayed for a year or two, got their credentials and off they went looking for a position somewhere else.
We still have letters from the parents giving them permission (or not in some cases!), to go to the local dance, because they were very young.
Since you have taken over as Managing Director, you have seen two recessions and a global pandemic. Retail has really taken some hard hits in the past decade.
Essentially, I took over from my father, after a very long overdue retirement! He was in business for a long time and had been through all the recessions in the ’70s and ’80s. He has seen the business having difficult times before, so his advice is very valuable.
What was frustrating is that for a long time we were hearing people saying ‘we are over the last recession’. That is or was not the case. Then in the last 18 months we were starting to see more positivity and we could start planning. Then the pandemic hits.
Customers are no longer buying outfits for weddings, a day out at the races or special events. Has the trend completely shifted to casual wear?
Definitely. I am amazed at the turn around for some of the brands in the shop. Maybe they had the foresight during lockdown to see it, but they definitely changed the clothes they are bringing in with ‘work from home’ and ‘casual’ styles.
You will still see some formal dress wear as some of the events are going ahead on a smaller scale.
Unfortunately you lost some brands that you had in store. They literally had to close up shop during the pandemic, but you gained some new ones too?
Yes, we lost Warehouse and Oasis, which was really sad on a personal level as their staff were here for the best part of 16 and 17 years.
There’s not much you can do when stuck in a lockdown, except try to fill the gap. So we worked on different brands and now we have Studio 8, which caters for size 16 to 26. We also have the Whistles and Damsel in a Dress and we are just launching all their Autumn/Winter ranges.
You also present ‘Spirit Alive’ on Kilkenny Community Radio. Is the show more spiritual than religious?
It depends where you are coming from. It is overtly Christian, but I think when Fr Willie and I give an interview, a thought or a view, we try to be encouraging and not too much in your face. I am a great believer that God is a creator and he is different things to different people.
You will have to listen on Saturday morning and tell me what you think it means. My wife, who is a great critic, tells me it’s a ‘nice’ show. That’s when she listens to it, which is about twice a year!
Are you anticipating that people are going to spend more or less on gifts this Christmas?
To be honest, I hope people will be more creative with their money and a bit tighter. I know that might sound strange from a retailer. We all love something being bought for us, a nice little gift. However, I am not sure in the overall, the excessive of it serves us as a society well. It’s the thought that counts - that’s what’s treasured about a gift.
I think retail needs to become more thoughtful rather than commercial and to bring more meaning into things.
Mother Theresa once said that the hardest disease in the world to fix is ‘loneliness’. I think the pandemic is an opportunity for us all to recalibrate, even in a small way and even to reprioritise.
Enlighten us about what you learned during this pandemic?
I think this pandemic has shown us - what we are, without all the things we can’t do. Who are we without the identity of our jobs, it’s an interesting question but also a scary question.
This time is also about finding a little bit of pleasure in things that we hadn’t appreciated as much. For example, Fiona and I went to the theatre the other night, and we really appreciated it more than we ever did before, it was just lovely to sit in an audience again.
Goods are now taking deposits in a lot of their departments for Christmas. Ask in-store for details or shop online at www.goods.ie
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