Tiger Paw changing hands
By Michael Butler
The Tiger Paw has been connected to the Tallassee sports scene for more than 30 years, from the team uniforms to the team mom shirts. Diane Weldon opened the downtown business on Aug. 1, 1985. Next Monday, Aug. 1, she will transfer ownership to Stephen Webster.
Webster ows CLP Academey in the downtown district and will merge the two businesses continuing the long-running tradition.
"Mrs. Diane has mentored us on the operation of the business, and we are taking her ideas along with ours to help expand the business and meet the surrounding communities' needs," Webster said.
Webster and his wife April will run the operation, along with April's mother Elisa Davidson, who has worked in the custom apparel and alteration business since 1983. The family business model has worked for Weldon, who has been aided by her daughter-in-law, Heather Weldon, for the last nine years.
"Diane and Heather will continue to work through August to complete their orders and assist us if needed," added Webster.
Diane is looking forward to the "golden years" which will include spending more time with her grandchildren.
"I will miss seeing the (customers), but it's time for me to retire," she said. "According to my friends that have already retired, I will stay busier than when I work. I have several projects that I want to do at my house."
Diane expects that passing the baton will be a seamless transition.
"While Stephen is going to keep most of the business as it is, he is bringing lots of new ideas," she noted.
Webster has already ordered several new designs for Tallassee and Reeltown sports lines just in time for the upcoming season.
"We're adding more to the racks, and have more samples in the store," he stated. "We plan to add sporting equipment and have a night shift to make turnaround on large orders much quicker. We are going to make Tiger Paw more versatile by delivering and coming to the customer for order placement."
Store hours will be from 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. weekdays. On Saturdays, hours will be from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. The store will be closed on Sundays.
Q and A with Diane Weldon
Q: How did you get into the business?
A: It started out as men's clothing, but the customer led us into this line by asking for certain products. As printed shirts became the best sellers, we went with the demand.
Q: What's it been like dealing with generations of customers?
A: It's kind of neat when someone comes in that you haven't seen in a while and they bring in their child to outfit him or her for some sport.
Q: Tell about the relationship with Tallassee Tigers Sports.
A: We have had a great relationship with all school sports programs. We have had a lot of support from the recreation department as well.
Q: Is the Tallassee sports connection the reason for the name "Tiger Paw?"
A: We were sitting around the table trying to come up with a name. Cathy Stonaker came up with Tiger Paw and we liked it. The connection was with the school, but we started out with Converse shoes, Levi's jeans, suit jackets, etc. The customer target was young men since I had two teenage boys at that time.
Q: Any final thoughts for your longtime customers?
A: Thank you for all of the support that you have given us through the years. I have enjoyed having the opportunity to work with you. We hope that the Tiger Paw will be here for many more years to serve the community.