Sioux City woman, 95, retires after 80-year retail career
SIOUX CITY — Marguerite Kuhl is convinced that the second time will be the charm.
Closing Kuhl’s Dress Shop in 1995, she retired — for the first time — at the age of 72.
But then she got bored.
She re-entered the workforce as the manager of Health Plus at the Southern Square Shopping Center.
The Sioux City Journal reports that now after 17 years of selling nutritional supplements, she is ready to step aside for a second time — at age 95.
“This time, I’m really retiring,” Kuhl said in an interview 24 hours before her final day of work on Aug. 31. “I love my customers, I love my bosses and I love my job but this is the right time.”
That’s quite a statement coming from a woman who started her retail career at age 15 in her hometown of Randolph, Nebraska.
“When I moved to Sioux City in 1942, I got a job in Montgomery Ward’s women’s clothing department,” Kuhl said. “Guess I was biding my time since my fiancé Homer was fighting in World War II.”
Even after the two married in 1944, she continued working at the store.
“I was enjoying myself,” she said. “I had a knack for retail.”
But Kuhl also aspired to be her own boss. In 1960, she opened Kuhl’s, a popular dress boutique in the Peters Park area.
“When you’re a small business owner, customer service becomes the most important thing in the world,” she said. “I knew my customers and they knew me.”
Caring for her elderly parents, Kuhl made the difficult decision to close her shop.
“It was hard but it was the right decision at the time,” she allowed. “Once they passed on, I found out that I didn’t like sitting around without a purpose in life.”
That’s when Kuhl decided to go back to work.
“I fell in love with retail one more time,” she said.
Working helped Kuhl come to terms with her husband’s death in 2002, as well as the death of her daughter, Joni, in 2009.
“Time is fleeting,” she said. “If you have your health and if you’re enjoying what you’re doing, you have to take advantage of it.”
Indeed, this may be the secret to Kuhl’s longevity.
After retirement, she wants to spend more time with her daughter and son-in-law, Julie and Rick Ferris, two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Still, Kuhl has no interest in sitting back and doing nothing.
“No way, I’ll still be puttering around in my yard, reading, cooking, baking and, maybe, doing some volunteer work for my church,” she said. “In other words, the things I never had time to do in the past.”
There are a few things that Kuhl won’t be missing.
“I don’t like driving in winter weather,” she said. “That played a big role in my decision to retire. I just didn’t want to deal with one more bad winter.”
However, Kuhl will miss other things.
“Over the past 17 years, my customers have become more like friends and family to me,” she said. ‘They’ve become a part of my life.”
During her last week at Health Plus, Kuhl said many customers have been giving her hugs.
“That’s nice,” she said, smiling. “Especially, when the customer happens to be a man.”
Standing by the checkout stand, Kuhl said retiring after so many years on the job is bittersweet.
But she’s also ready for whatever life brings her way.
“I’ve been blessed with good people in my life,” Kuhl said. “Maybe, that’s the secret of longevity. You have to enjoy people and enjoy life.