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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Laura B. Waddell, August 6, 2002. Interview R-0175. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Strategies for economic success

Waddell never relied on black customers, so desegregation did not affect her business a great deal. She describes some of the strategies she adopted to keep her business profitable over the years.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Laura B. Waddell, August 6, 2002. Interview R-0175. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

How did desegregation impact your—
I never had a great black business. My business was not so much on a one to one basis. I went mostly for the commercial business, and that's the only way I survived. I just could not—I did not depend on walk in customers.
I see.
I did not depend on the neighbors coming in because I could've gotten that kind of work, but it would be too time consuming. A lady who knows what I can do, I also did designing. You could bring me a dress out of a magazine, and I can copy it for you. Who wouldn't want that kind of work, but I was giving more than I was receiving. They're not going to pay for the work that I put into that. So I knew that in order to stay in business, I had to make money in volume. So I had to go out and get commercial work and to keep the people that were working for me busy.
Well, tell me—how then did when Broughton Street started to go down and some of those stores started to move off Broughton Street and close down, did that affect your business? Were a lot of those some of the people you contracted with.
Well, it affected my employees' business because I didn't need as many people to do alteration, but then I went into another phase of business in my shop. I started doing bridal clothes. I would do some directing, and I also would make clothes, but what helped me more in not being a copy cat, I went out and got my fabric from places out of the city. I didn't buy locally to do my bridal things. That's how I maintained my business, but still that was a little harder on me wherein that my employees would make enough money for my overhead. I was the chief employee there. It worked, I enjoyed what I was doing, but it just worked me a little harder, and so I cut down on some of my employees.