Tandy Jeckel, owner of three clothing stores,  at her new...

Tandy Jeckel, owner of three clothing stores,  at her new Tandy Girl location in Commack. Credit: Linda Rosier

If you ask Tandy Jeckel how things are going at her store, she’d likely have to ask you, “Which one?”

That’s because as of this month, the 59-year-old mother of three, who specializes in fashions for women and girls, has three clothing shops in Commack.  And they're not just multiple locations of the same shop; each one has a different merchandise focus.

TandyWear — Jeckel’s first and flagship store — started within the Christopher Street hair salon at 33 Vanderbilt Motor Pkwy in 1999, and then opened in its own space at 6037 Jericho Tpke. in 2015. It offers juniors and women’s clothing and accessories. Earlier this month she added TandyGirl — a store at 114 Commack Rd. for girls sizes 2T-14. In addition, Jeckel opened another new shop this month at 89 Commack Rd. —TandyWear Off Price — a boutique clothing and accessory store for women offering clearance prices.

So, we asked Jeckel about what it takes to start a small business and what’s involved in having more than one store — especially when it wasn’t her “dream” to have a career in women’s and children’s fashion, or to have any kind of store at all, much less three.

“Actually, growing up my dream was to be a singer, and I was on the path — putting in the work and making the connections to become one,” the Commack resident explained. “However, once I became a mother my priorities changed. I knew that life wasn’t going to work for me.”

What Jeckel came to realize did work was selling clothes, because her fashion sense came naturally.

“My mother was always dressed to the hilt, looking immaculate and carefully put together,” Jeckel said. “She instilled in me from a very young age how important it is to take care of yourself and present yourself well. Feeling dressed and put together is not only a confidence booster but it gives you an energy boost as well.”

Having a clothing store one day became her new career goal.

“It fit into my lifestyle,” Jeckel said. “I always loved nice clothes, and I was a young mom surrounded by other young moms, so why not create a little business of my own?”

Did you get any formal education in fashion before deciding to go into the business, or did you previously work in retail?
No, I just learn as I go, and I’m still learning. I’m a big researcher. If I want to do something, or know something, I’ll find the right people to talk to who have experience in it or I’ll find out what I need to know on the Internet.

How did you go about starting your first store?
I started small. In the beginning I could only afford to sell clothes out of the trunk of my car. Once I made a little money from that, I rented some space in the [Christopher Street] hair salon. Once I outgrew that, I found an abandoned building and made a deal with the landlord to sell out of that. It really was such a progression. It amazes me to see where the company is now compared to where it started.

Where did the startup money come from for you to open your own brick-and-mortar shop?
My grandmother.

How much money do you need to open a boutique?
At least $150,000… Actually, you really need hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you have a store, how do you know when it’s the right time to open another one?
You just need to know it’s not going to be a dream one minute and a success the next. It’s so important to have the support of your family and friends and the ability to keep going even when it seems like things aren’t going according to plan.


How much money do you need to have in reserve to open a second store or location?
A lot. You need to determine your initial investment costs, like rent, product renovations, etcetera, and triple it.

How do you get and keep employees?
Word of mouth.

Since you can’t be in all three of your stores all the time, how do you know all is running smoothly at each location?
I’m always checking in, and on the phone, and answering emails to make sure all issues are handled.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made along the way as a business owner?
Influencers… Dumping a lot of money into social media. It doesn’t always boost your business.

What’s the best advice you can give someone thinking of starting a business or adding a store or location?
Know your market, and make sure you stay focused and patient. Building a business is a slow and steady incline. You can’t think in terms of weeks and months, you have to base your goals in years. I’ve been at this for over 20 years and it’s still not where I know it could be.”

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Updated 14 minutes ago Deadly two-car crash in Massapequa Park ... Urologist sex abuse case ... NYS cancels wind farms ... Women softball league

Urologist sex abuse case … Carcinogens found in West Islip … LIRR's top fare evaders Credit: Newsday

Updated 14 minutes ago Deadly two-car crash in Massapequa Park ... Urologist sex abuse case ... NYS cancels wind farms ... Women softball league

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