‘My Eyes Were Opened;' Why Gypsy Wagon's Owner Is Changing Her Store's Name

In 2007, when Carley Searle opened a store in Dallas selling whimsical treasures that caught her eye, she wanted a name that fit the vibe of the place.She settled on “Gypsy Wagon” after seeing a large wooden cart as part of a display at a wholesale market. It seemed to be the picture of all that she had imagined.“The name just fit. I wanted it to be playful. A name that would allow me to do lots of different things with the store,” Searle said.But she didn’t know at the time that the term “Gypsy” has a darker history, and is offensive to an ethnic minority known as the Romani people who travel around Europe and came to the Americas but originated in northern India.In the last few years, she started hearing from people asking questions about the store’s name. Was she a Gypsy? What did she know about Gypsies? Had she heard of the Roma?“I didn’t have an answer. I started doing some research and my eyes were opened. I realized this situation was bigger than me,” Searle said.The Gypsy Wagon sign on North Henderson went down this week. New permanent signs have been ordered.The new name is Favor the Kind.Searle’s situation is not unique as brands increasingly deal with new cultural norms as terms that were once commonly used are reassessed. Most notably, in sports, teams that have brands considered offensive to Native American culture have been pressured to change in recent years.But the change does come with a price, said Peter Noble, professor of advertising at Southern Methodist University, who noted that Searle has “successfully built up 10 years of brand equity,” which will be lost with the new name.“She’s giving up something of value,” Noble said. “Even accounting recognizes a name has value and calls it goodwill on the balance sheet.”The beginningsRetail is Searle’s third career, but it was her first passion. The Tyler native majored in accounting at the University of Oklahoma and went straight to work for EY. Later, she switched to medical sales. The whole time, she thought about opening a store.Searle, 42, had a vision that it would be the kind of store where shoppers would come and always leave happy whether they bought something or not. Unique gifts, home décor, stationery, apparel and accessories culled by Searle needed a whimsical name.She’s good at what she does. The Gypsy Wagon has grown during a period when big retail companies are closing stores and struggling with dwindling traffic. Searle has 59 employees and three more stores in Austin, Houston and Crested Butte, Colo. Developers call her all the time to open stores in their centers.  Continue reading...

Copyright The Dallas Morning News
Contact Us