Compiled By Peg Stomierowski
Starla Heim, Owner
Dooley’s Tuxedo & Costumes
tore operator Starla Heim, who recently lost her mother and business partner Rose Heim, viewed her as the backbone of their family business. In 1968, Starla’s parents came from Colorado to Alaska, where Starla, the youngest of four, was born. Rose and daughter Sheryl bought Dooley’s in 1980 from Doris Dooley, who started the business in 1971 in Fairbanks. According to Starla, Sheryl remains a silent partner and serves as a sounding board when needed. And just about everyone in the family, she adds, can be found behind the counter at fun times like Halloween. Starla also is a community volunteer. VIEW FROM THE TOP: Around here, we are a team. We take pride in being a family owned and operated sales and rental business, and want to keep it personal, in close communication with our customers and employees. I like having a team that works together and am always trying to work with our handful of employees as a team leader. Meeting all of our commitments takes a lot of communication. LOOSENING UP: For a few years now people have been going much less formal in weddings—it seems to be a national trend. Fewer people are getting married, there are fewer big weddings, and you’re seeing more suits and ties rather than formalwear, so we have had to transition to accommodate that. We have plenty of costume business to make up for the slackened tuxedo demand. THEME PARTIES: Since the economy plunged, people are having more parties in their homes instead of going out; there is some form of theme costume party in this town every weekend—from 1920s to ‘70s, vampires to renaissance, superheroes and many more. We pay attention to movies that are coming out for most of our costume trends, and stay tuned in with the entertainment industry for most of our formal trends. ALWAYS IN SEASON: There is always a season to cater to. In formalwear, for instance, we tend to stay busy in February and March for the charity ball season, then right into April and May for proms, then into the summer months for weddings. Then comes Halloween, and following that, Christmas for our Santas, and then it starts again. NAIL BITERS: Shipping costs. We ship statewide for weddings, proms and other formal events. The shipping charges have gone through the roof; customers may pay more in shipping than for the rental itself. When we ship a tuxedo, we are never really sure it will be coming back on time because of weather and the shipping time frame, so counting on having it in stock or reserved for the next weekend is tough. Bush orders to certain remote corners may ship by air, truck or even dogsled. I’m always chewing my nails on that next weekend’s events. ©2012 Chris Arend
KEEPING IT FUN: We have an amazing staff that always maintains a fun and happy atmosphere; it’s not too hard, though, because we are almost always dealing with happy people and happy situations. We have had some very eccentric and interesting customers through the years. Around here, no question is too strange. This business keeps me young. q www.akbizmag.com • Alaska Business Monthly • April 2012
Published on Apr 1, 2012
Alaska Business Monthly’s 2012 Corporate 100 annual special section begins on page 86. Top citizens of industry are highlighted in this annu...