It was a retail event that felt more like playing dress up at a slumber party last Tuesday in the Oil Center as Molly Finnegan began the official countdown to her retirement after 34 years of retailing in Lafayette.

Longtime friends and customers flocked to the pre-close out sale, sipped wine, gossiped, perused the racks and streamed in and out of dressing rooms, taking turns in front of the mirrors. Larayne Guidroz figured it out early, stuffing accessories into a display dressing table drawer as she darted about the store. “I just can’t carry it all while I shop!” she said.

RMay_120912_4396MolFenThe bittersweet sale marks the end of a great run for Molly, who bought Annie’s et cie on Arnould Boulevard with then-partner Carlos Russo in 1978. Within a year, Carlos moved on to open his own store, and in 1986, she relocated near Charley G’s and put up the first molli sign. Moving later to Time Plaza, she was recruited in 1993 by Herbert Heymann to come to the Oil Center as part of his plans for a renaissance there. That cozy shop on the corner has been home since.

Her most memorable chapter in three decades? “Surviving the oil crunch of the mid ‘80s, no doubt,” she says. Her signature in trade has always been finding new designers on the way up and bringing them to fashion-forward Lafayette, among them Lafayette 148, Ellen Tracy and Robert Lee Morris Jewelry. “I literally bought jewelry from him out of a desk drawer at a small gallery in Soho,” she remembers. “Now he’s on QVC.”

Ever the faithful friend, Russo popped in to help with the big sale. Molly eventually plans to spend time gardening, painting and enjoying her grandchildren (her son Kyle Braniff is a local home builder and well-known artist — think the gleaming fish that adorn the walls at Tsunami). But in the meantime, there’s one final sale to see to. Don’t miss it!

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