Of all the things that Lyne Morgan might change about The Surrey, the smell should stay the same, said customer Barbara Lynn. "I love the smell," Lynn, of Owings, Md., said.
The scent of saddle leather and potpourri that pervades the shop is not likely to change. The store had run out of potpourri in December, but Morgan was quick to remedy that after she took over. "That was the first thing we ordered," she said.
The Surrey, a saddle and gift shop in the Potomac Village, will has been open for 51 years. It was started by Lyn Carroll and a partner. Carroll owned and operated the shop until her death last winter, coming to work there just days before her death.
It existed in a sort of limbo for a few months, and the estate did not purchase any new inventory. "We had customers looking for products we didn’t have," Morgan said.
But on July 1, Lyne Morgan and her family bought the store from the estate.
Morgan, who is Carroll’s goddaughter and is named for her, first started working at the store when she was 14. She’s taken a few breaks since then but has been working at the store for the past 18 years.
Although Morgan has been the owner for little more than a week, many of those who work there are not concerned that she will implement many major changes. "Mrs. Carroll was always full of life. Lyne Morgan feels much the same way," said Kay Titus, the store’s manager. "She has been here since she was in her teens. She understands how it’s been and understands the essence of the store and the traditions and is going to continue those as much as possible."
MORGAN CONCURRED. She plans to keep the riding aspect of the store as its primary focus. "Our basic customer group for riding, we don’t plan to change," Morgan said.
Most of the changes that Morgan has planned revolve around electronic mediums. Carroll, Morgan explained, was very set in her ways about how to operate a business and relied little on technology. "We have huge amounts of paper we generate," Morgan said.
She hopes to start an inventory control system, adding bar codes and new registers. "The customers should notice that we don’t run out of things as much," she said.
Morgan is also analyzing the store’s hours and virtually every other aspect of the business. "We’re looking at everything, even who’s cleaning our rugs."
The store’s core merchandise such as hats, boots and riding clothes will be kept in stock. But Morgan, echoing comments made by Carroll last year, said she plans to keep up with the latest trends, like boots designed more like athletic shoes and clothes that wick away sweat. "They’re becoming more attuned to the fact that riders are athletes," Morgan said. "The trick is to maintain the traditions but still adapt to the changes."
Toward that end, Morgan plans to continue to carry gift lines but to start carrying more upscale items. "We’re hoping to add some antiques to our gifts," she said. Although she doesn’t plan to carry large items like furniture, she does want to continue to carry some antique curios. "All of our lines try to reflect that this is a store catering to country living."