Posted on Mar 09, 2018

RITA MITCHELL-WALDOFF, Counselor for Mississippi Small Business Development Center

Charming, but uniquely cosmopolitan, Little Rock, Arkansas is Rita Mitchell-Waldoff’s hometown. Though Rita has traveled extensively and worked in major metropolitan areas, she considers her unique brand of service to the competitive and diverse Arkansas business community as the secret ingredient of her life-long romance with retail.
As a young and relentless Fashionista, Rita worked for the M.M. Cohn specialty chain while studying at UALR to become an English teacher with a minor in Spanish. Upon graduation, Rita’s supervisor persuaded her to work 3 full-time months as his assistant instead of teaching summer school. From that flattering invitation, Rita’s 40 + year bond with serving retail clients in fine stores was firmly launched.
Rita was selected for the legendary retail management-training program at Woolf Brothers of Kansas City, where she managed women’s shoes, sportswear, dresses, coats and contemporary, along with men’s furnishings. She was part of the select management team that restructured and reopened the Country Club Plaza store after the devastating 1977 flood. A family transfer took Rita to Fort Smith, Arkansas, where she began as the lingerie buyer for the Boston Store/White House specialty department group. She quickly became the designer sportswear, dress, suit and coat buyer. Within one year, she became the Central Mall/Fort Smith store manager while also serving as the interim manager for the Ney family’s White House Store in Beaumont, Texas.
Rita returned to Little Rock, where she free-lanced for 8 specialty stores. Soon, she was back in the heart of contract retail projects, personal shopping and store remodeling. In 1986, Rita leased a 1,500 square foot space in the middle of her home neighborhood, and Elle Contemporary Classics became Little Rock’s most innovative boutique. With creative, trendsetting promotion and distinctive merchandising, Elle grew from a tiny niche specialty store into a contemporary fashion mecca of 7,800 square feet over the course of more than 20 years, with prestigious clients such as Hillary Clinton, Patti Upton, Willie Oates and countless other accomplished, busy professionals. ELLE tracked client preferences; staged fashion’s best Trunk Shows and treated men to catered fashion shows to simplify their holiday shopping.
At its peak, ELLE did well over 6 million in volume annually and employed 25 of Little Rock’s most accomplished retail professionals, winning fashion, media, customer service and community awards. ELLE proudly represented the market’s finest sportswear, accessories, suiting, contemporary, social occasion and prom … exclusive, affordable, and always served with designer-level attention and ultimate client care. Rita pioneered the concepts of the ELLE Fashion Council, a test market auxiliary, ELLE TELLS fashion newsletter and TELL ELLE, humorous seasonal client and community questionnaire. Rita is a Rotarian, a Presbyterian and an insatiable reader of every genre.
Rita specializes in retail merchandising, restructuring, branding, event planning, margin analysis, trend commentary and fashion show planning and business journalism. She is sought after for articles, blogs, television morning show appearances, seasonal fashion analyses and her wickedly droll Rita and the Fashionistas reports.
Joining WALDOFF GROUP has represented the absolute summit of Rita’s entire retail career. As partner, she joins Milton and his staff of professionals with the clear goals of WALDOFF GROUP: Delivering outstanding analysis, business development, service, action planning and creativity to every client, project, and assignment.
The following are a few of her most reprinted and requested articles:
Dreading the Wedding Blues
Rules of the Retail Realist
“Business is Great”…and Other Lies
Your Right to Bare Arms….or NOT!
The Ultimate “Powder Play”….
Jane White’s Miss America Face Magic
Focus on PROM!!
Piece of CAKE – how to layer your inventory for margin building.
Bridge Building Words – Phrases to Get Work Done!
When is the BEST Time to Stop Talking ….
and Start Doing.
How to create ONE MORE HOUR, every day.
Top Ten Tricks for a Successful Holiday Season-
(…Begin with the END on your Radar!)