Offaly native, Josephine Somers, opened a ladies’ fashion boutique called ‘Wide Variety’ on November 4th 1994 in the Stonecourt Centre in Roscommon town. The business moved a number of times in the intervening period before finding its current home in the Harrison Centre around 15 years ago, and rebranding as Satara in 2012.
Josephine explained the inspiration behind setting up her business in Roscommon town.
“The main reason I got started is that I developed a thyroid problem, which is a medical problem, and a couple of other things, which resulted in me gaining quite a lot of weight. I was a bit embarrassed going into shops to look for larger-sized clothes because I had always been used to being very slim. It occurred to me that there were very few shops that catered for bigger sizes and I thought it would be an idea to open one”.
Josephine didn’t come from a fashion background and instead had worked primarily in IT after leaving school.
“I started off very small, where John Earley’s front office is now (Stonecourt). I was there for a year and a half before I moved further down the town (Goff Street) and then back up to the Stonecourt before finally settling here about fifteen years ago,” she said.
Josephine counts herself very lucky that she received such a warm welcome in Roscommon town from both fellow business people and local customers, who took her boutique to their hearts.
“I am so lucky that our customers have remained so loyal throughout the years. Even back when I first started people were so supportive of me. They were brilliant,” she said.
Josephine and her family once ran a grocery shop in Kiltoom but as Wide Variety grew they left that business and relocated to Ballymurray.
The name Wide Variety was suggested by Josephine’s brother, John, while she was visiting him at his home during a buying trip to London. But following an appearance on Feargal Quinn’s Retail Therapy on RTÉ in 2012, it was decided to change the name to Satara.
“We got a call asking us would we like to go on the Feargal Quinn’s Retail Therapy programme and we said that we would. We had six months of filming and then we decided to relaunch the shop as ‘Satara’ after a major revamp. It was a great experience. Feargal was such a lovely man, he’d really put you at ease. He was excellent,” she said.
Satara is now a bright and welcoming boutique which wouldn’t be out of place on the high street of a big city. Josephine prides herself on the store’s welcoming atmosphere. There are four other members of staff, all from the locality: her daughter Siobhán Gannon, as well as Siobhan Martin, Sandy Gately and Frances Fallon.
“I’m absolutely blessed with my staff, they’re all so lovely and everyone gets on really well together. It’s like a family and everyone is willing to help each other out.
“They’re great at keeping everything running smoothly and creating a lovely atmosphere in the shop. I wouldn’t have many things I’d be fussy on, but one of them is tidiness. I absolutely hate to see the shop a mess. Everybody – customers included – wants to see it tidy! If you’ve hangers all over the place or clothes hanging off a rail, it affects the whole atmosphere”.
Satara has certainly found a home in the Harrison Centre and Josephine really appreciates the togetherness that exists among businesses there.
“It’s lovely here; it’s like a little family and we all get on really well and support each other,” she said, before highlighting the variety of shops, eateries and services the centre has to offer.
As Satara celebrates 25 years in business this Friday night it will offer Josephine and her staff an opportunity to say thank you to the boutique’s many loyal customers.
Josephine said: “I know I wouldn’t be still here if my customers weren’t loyal to me and if they didn’t keep coming back again and again. A lot of people tell me that they like the great service here and that’s something that we do try very hard to provide. There’s always somebody to help them…or leave them alone, whichever they prefer!
“The loyalty of our customers is so important and very much appreciated. Hopefully they’ll keep coming to us and we’ll still be here in another 25 years!”