Retail scores and lakeside family R&R ready me for a return to the workforce
By Suzanne Wright
Now that my two kids are both in school, I’m re-entering the job market after being a stay-at-home mom for eight years. A friend helped me update my résumé in a way that convincingly presents my stay-at-home-mother management skills as the assets they are. I’ve reached out to former colleagues to reignite my professional network. I’ve researched industries and salaries and I’ve begun practicing crisp interview answers with my husband, Ben, to build my confidence.
The final step in my prep is the one with the power to transform me visually and make an excellent first impression. These days, I’m not completely sure what constitutes office-appropriate attire, but I know the basics aren’t in my closet since my current wardrobe consists of yoga pants, jeans, tees and maxi dresses.
Often, life’s key events create the need to shop for them. I remember plunking down my very first credit card to buy a cream-colored wool Dior suit with gold buttons when I was a new college graduate—it helped me land me a coveted job in publishing. When I received my first big promotion and pay raise, I splurged on a designer handbag. After the birth of our first child, Ben shopped at Tiffany & Co., my favorite jewelry store, and gave me a beautiful bracelet.
Lake of the Ozarks
Lucky for me, our upcoming vacation had just the place to help me prepare for this next big step.
Our family has long enjoyed vacationing at the Lake of the Ozarks. We’re not alone—just this year the readers of USA Today voted it as America’s favorite recreational lake.
We line up a two-bedroom, furnished cabin overlooking the lake at Point Randall Resort for the coming weekend. It’s one of our favorite, family-friendly places to stay because it’s on a mile-long cove where my kids can tube and Ben can fish.
Working Mom 2.0
Shopping has become a huge pastime in the Lake of the Ozarks, which has the largest collection of outlet stores in the state.
In addition to the 110+ stores at the Osage Beach Premium Outlets, there’s Eagle’s Landing, Pruitt’s Point, Poverty Flats and Stonecrest Mall. Plus, the Strip has a bunch of new boutiques that have opened since our last visit. Together, I’m confident I can build a workplace wardrobe without breaking the bank.
While I’m out shopping, the gang can enjoy the lake and the pool. It’s a win-win.
My first stop is Blair’s Landing at Poverty Flats with the slogan “where the best dressed shop,” which has been voted “Best of the Lake” by local residents for years. Their high quality, men’s and women’s lines include lots of classics and accessories from well-known brands. I purchase a home run color-blocked dress from Joseph Ribkoff and smart silver bracelets from Brighton.
When it comes to tackling an outlet mall, I’m a hunter with laser-focus, years of experience and a list. I enlist the friendly associates at each store to help me find the right pieces. At Ann Taylor, I nab a flattering pencil skirt and a couple of silky blouses. At Brooks Brothers, I score well-cut black trousers. Nine West has perfect pumps and a young fashionista at BCBG Max Azria sells me two beautiful statement necklaces.
“These will give you a savvy edge,” she explains, as she drapes them over a simple white shirt. “Accessories make you memorable.”
I look at myself in the mirror. We both smile and nod with approval.
My final stop is at Coach. I need a tote to keep my work and home lives organized.
“I’ve got something that just came in,” the salesperson says, as he unpacks a sumptuous cognac leather bag. The buttery leather is gorgeous. But even at a discount, will this designer purse be too pricey?
As if reading my mind, he says, “Everything is an additional 20 percent off today.”
Sold. Shopping mission accomplished. It’s time to meet back up with the family for a little show and tell, then some family-friendly evening entertainment.
I hate to come home empty-handed for my family, so I pick up a tins of butterscotch and cheddar popcorn from Osage River Popcorn.
When I get back to the cabin, Ben is grilling and the kids are sprawled on the deck. I drop my haul—several bags worth—on the table. The kids both lunge for the corn, popping handfuls into their mouths.
“Looks like you got lucky,” Ben says as he pours me a glass of wine.
“What’d you get, Mom?” my daughter chirps. “I want to see!”
I oblige, modeling several outfits.
My daughter coos over my purchases. My son, not normally one for sartorial observation, gives me the biggest compliment of the night.
“I’d hire you, Mom.”
My heart melts as I give him a hug.
I get back into vacation attire and we’re off to the Main Street Music Hall. My daughter, who sings with her school’s chorus has been especially interested in attending the Opry Show. It’s a wonderful evening of high-spirited entertainment we all enjoy.
Heeding the need
All of us seem to have a need for speed, so we kick off the day at Gran Rally Karts. Each of us slip into our own single seaters and compete for track dominance while negotiating hairpin turns, laughing and shrieking. Slowing down the pace if not our competitive natures, we take in 18 holes at Sugarcreek Miniature Golf. It’s a beautiful setting under shade trees, amid waterfalls and rustic wooden buildings. My husband gets to show off his prowess with the little white ball and the rest of us praise his efforts.
As the sun begins to set, we get cleaned up and head for town. We stroll the unique stores, such as Nautical Shoppe where my son loves browsing the model ships. He admires a wooden Viking ship, intently studying the directions and then glances up to me with hope in his eyes. It will take some 50 hours to construct. After buying myself so many things this weekend, I was happy to treat my son to a boat.
“I’d like you to have it, honey,” I say.
“Really, Mom?” He beams as the clerk rings up the purchase.
In the life of our family, we’ll share more vacations and many meaningful transitions. Years ago, it was my first designer suit that signaled a transition. Today, it’s my son’s toy ship that he will always connect with our trip to Lake of the Ozarks. Someday, it will be my daughter’s first set of luggage that she’ll pack with both clothing and family memories. They are more than just things. They are objects that will conjure happy memories long into the future.
Find memory markers for your family shopping at Lake of the Ozarks!