Saying goodbye to Hi-Lites

Staff Writer

Hi-Lites, a women’s specialty boutique and Newton staple, is closing. For 18 years, the store has catered primarily to those aged 30 and up, carrying many name-brand clothing pieces.

Employees Irene Parker, manager, and Melissa White, assistant manager, weren’t surprised on Tuesday when they found out that their beloved store was closing.

The pair said that downtown construction posed a parking issue that didn’t help.

“We’ve been taking a turn on the downside for a while now,” White said.

The employees went from 40 customers a day to half of that, saying they just weren’t making the profits needed anymore.

“We offered women good quality clothing at reasonable prices,” Parker said.

Both women have mixed emotions about the closing.

“I see it as a change in life-- another chapter,” White said.

Parker feels the same.

“A door can’t open until another one closes,” she said.

Todd Griffin is an instrumental part of the family business/Hi-Lites Corporation.

“We’re sad to have to close the store, because we’re based on low prices,” Griffin shared. “But the traffic patterns have changed and it’s time to close the doors.”

Loyal customer Robin Sigmon often walks over from Renwood Mills.

“It’s been convenient to walk over here,” she said. “I think it’s really sad how the businesses are being negatively affected by all of the downtown road work.”

Like others, Sigmon has became friends with Parker and White.

White came on in August 2002 and has been faithful to Hi-Lites for 17 years now. Parker started working for the chain in 1993 in High Point, North Carolina.

“We wear everything here,” Parker joked.

White joined in saying, “This is the only place I shop.”

They both talked about how they handle clothes on a day-to-day basis and how the shop is like a second home to them.

“Why would we go anywhere else to shop,” Parker laughed.

During the years, the pair of co-workers have seen many trends come and go.

Parker said that once dressy pant suits and dresses were all the rage, but now women like easy comfortable clothing like leggings and tunics.

“It’s dressy-casual now,” Parker said. “You don’t see a lot of people wearing dresses anymore.”

The ladies mentioned on how they knew some customers so well that they knew their styles and sizes In fact, they knew their customers so well that they would often pull new styles and hold them for them until they could come in to try them on.

“The company really did treat you like family, know you, and cared about their employees,” Parker said. “We were good friends with our customers, and they were like family too.”

She shared where she personally called one customer to inform her of the closing, and the customer was saddened because she said, “You’re not just the place where I shop, you’re my friends.”

As for what happens next, White is going to take care of her sick father, and Parker is going to continue volunteering for Hartman’s Haven Dog Rescue.