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Refreshing change for Hays clothing store

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Some time away from Hays in the 1980s proved beneficial for Tonya Staab.

When she returned home from Dallas with a degree in trade and industrial studies, with an emphasis in fashion merchandise, Staab decided to open a women's clothing store on her belief that "fashion is a woman's best friend."

She and her mom, Betty Longpine, opened MamZelles Ladies Apparel, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year.

Longpine retired in 2009. And after a successful first-quarter century, Staab is still going strong, heading into her next 25 years with another family member at her side.

Staab's daughter, Brianne Sultzer, joined her mom in business about the time Longpine retired and brings with her a flair for the younger set.

"We feature a lot of name brand items that are unique," Staab said. "And all of our new lines will cater to both moms and daughters. (Sultzer) came at a time where we needed to change. She helped me make a new transition into different fashions."

In celebration of the store's 25th year in business, the mom-daughter team gave it a face lift.

Anyone walking into the store in the Centennial Mall at 2512 Vine is bound to notice a difference.

There still are the accessories and outerwear and intimate wear that have kept customers coming back for years.

But there's new paint. And decorative lettering on walls throughout the store. There's even a new logo -- without the apostrophe that used to separate the Mam and Zelles part of the name.

"It's a process," Sultzer said of the changes. "We used to be thought of as a grandma's store. That drove me crazy. So we had to totally change it."

"But we still have clothes for the mature shopper," her mom was quick to add. "We want it to be a place where mothers and daughters can shop together."

One thing that has brightened up the store, and brought younger customers inside, was the addition of the popular new line of Liverpool Jeans that features colored denim jeans.

"That (line) has really taken off well," Sultzer said.

Staab said she has thoroughly enjoyed working with her daughter, much like she was able to do with her own mother for more than 20 years.

"It's been great," Staab said. "We can feed off each other very well."

Sultzer agreed.

"When one of us thinks of something," she said, "we don't have to question it."