June 22nd, 2016 ~ Vol. 85 No. 25
Crowsnest Pass loses iconic women’s fashion store
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
Three years ago Anita Ferguson and manager Beth Poch were celebrating 25 years of serving the Crowsnest Pass. Anita Ferguson closed Neat n’ Nifty after 28 years of serving the Pass.
Pass Herald Reporter
For years it was under the big clock at the four-way stop.

Then on June 1, at 10:30 p.m. after clearing out her remaining inventory and cleaning up, Anita Ferguson locked the door to her business for the last time after 28 years serving the Pass.

All she had left were ten pieces of clothing and a few racks.

“Neat n’ Nifty was my identity and now it feels like it’s sort of been stripped away but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Neat n’ Nifty opened in the Crowsnest Mall in 1988, serving up crafts and a one-hour photo development service. In 1993 Ferguson added a Sears outlet to the mix.

In 2004 Ferguson moved the business to the four-way stop in Blairmore and pivoted the store’s offerings to include more gifts and clothing. Then in 2008, she split her business in two. She moved Neat n’ Nifty across the street to a beautiful space that at one time had been Emilio Picariello’s Alberta Hotel but kept operating the Sears out of its original location.
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Neat n’ Nifty went through many iterations and reinventions in its almost three decades of business as the wily Ferguson tried a number of combinations of products, locations and services.

“When you go into business, you start out with what you start out with and then you just evolve,” she said. “I tried everything, I even had a candy bouquet thing for a while.”

Ferguson found that women’s clothing was really moving. She soon had customers and salespeople coming down from Calgary and Edmonton to meet, sell, buy and talk.

Lately however, operating two businesses was a bit much for the 66-year old entrepreneur. She says she had to make a decision on which of her businesses to close: Neat n’ Nifty or Sears.

In the end, Ferguson chose to close a business she loved in favour of saving a business the community needs. At one time, there were dozens of Sears locations in Southern Alberta, says Ferguson. Now there are only five left.
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“I don’t want to see the town without Sears,” she says. “People need it. I have customers coming in all the time with broken fridges and we’re the only dealer between Lethbridge and Nelson, they’ve closed out everybody else. I think it’s important to the community to have this type of thing. If we lose this, we won’t get it back.”

Over the years, her business relationships with customers and salespeople eventually blossomed into friendships, many of whom will be sad to see Neat n’ Nifty close.

“They all phoned and told me I shouldn’t be closing,” said Ferguson. “I’m going to miss it terribly but there comes a time.”
June 22nd ~ Vol. 85 No. 25
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