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The Lady Has Spoken

Jennifer Marks EDITOR-IN-CHIEFJennifer Marks EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
"Up until just a few weeks ago, Carole was the first phone call of my working day and the last phone call of the evening. She was my friend. "

ELEVEN YEARS AGO, I informed my colleagues at Discount Store News that I'd landed the job of editor-in-chief at Home Textiles Today. A couple of my more seasoned fellows said immediately upon hearing the news: "Have you met Carole Sloan yet?"
     I hadn't. What followed over the next several months were many breakfast pow-wows during which she tutored me on various aspects of the home textiles industry. Carole loved breakfast meetings. During markets, it was not unusual for her to schedule three in a row, starting at the crack of dawn and wrapping up before the showrooms opened their doors.
     I also became quickly acquainted with Carole's telephone prowess. If there were eight voicemails queued up in the system, at least five would be from her. I got so accustomed to dialing her number that innumerable times I phoned her accidently when I meant to ring my husband. It reached the point where her husband Peter would pick up and say: "Who are you calling for - Carole or Wayne?"
     Up until just a few weeks ago, Carole was the first phone call of my working day and the last phone call of the evening. She was my friend. I loved her dearly.
     Carole famously eschewed technology, but those of us who worked with her knew her dirty little secret: She submitted her stories by e-mail. However, she absolutely refused to accept an email message. I tried to ping a few her way. All went unacknowledged.
     It was unusual to dig out a piece of news to which Carole was not already privy. Her relationships ran deep. You could point to just about any senior executive in the retail industry only to discover she knew him or her when they were an assistant buyer of furniture or lamps or towels or curtains or whatnot.
     Same story on the supplier side. Several senior executives have described the furious preparation that preceded a line review visit from Carole back in the days when they were mere trainees.
     She did not believe in gratuitously praising designs, and she was circumspect with accolades. An "um-hmm" and a nod meant she considered something to be on the right track. If she actually verbalized appreciation for a piece - that was jackpot.
     Carole loved talented people, and she had a good eye for spotting them as well as cultivating them. She loved design, loved identifying emerging trends and loved smart retailing concepts.
     During my last visit with Carole, we discussed the most recent news. And I let this stand as her final editorial commentary.
     On word that owners of Las Vegas Market might buy High Point's primary furniture buildings: "Not surprising."
     On Chris Capuano being tapped to head home at Sears and Kmart: "She's very, very talented. And now she's got the big order pad."
     On JCPenney reducing the number of its in-store custom decorating studios from 525 to 300: "Schmucks." The lady has spoken.

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