Wednesday Dec 21 2022
As this year comes to a close, we find ourselves reflecting on more than just the past 12 months. Our entire Gardner Village history is top of mind with the recent passing of our fearless founder, Nancy Long.
As sad as this loss is, we take comfort in the fact that part of Nancy will never leave us. She leaves a tremendous legacy, both with The Village and, more importantly, with her loving family. In fact, her daughter, Angie Gerdes, and her son, Joe Long, now own and operate The Village. They find their mother’s words ring as true today as they did those 43 years ago when Nancy first took a leap and bought the old Gardner Mill in West Jordan, Utah.
“My mom was a visionary,” Angie shared. “She could see a space in ways that others could not. I remember how much she loved the mill when she first found it, and it was so run down and dilapidated. She was always one to take on a challenge and work through problems to make things happen.”
“Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb, that’s where the fruit is.” These words our mother shared will always stick with me. She was always willing to take risks when other would not.
Nancy didn’t just talk to the talk, she definitely walked the walk. As a young (ultimately divorced and single) mother with six children by the time she was 26, she took a great risk crawling out onto the end of that branch, but the fruit of her labor ultimately became several successful businesses, including Gardner Village and The Black Goose Design, which are still thriving today.
Beyond being willing to take chances, Nancy always championed customer service.
“Our mother loved retail and our customer,” Joe said. “’The customer is king,’ is something she repeated frequently.”
“Yes, she loved people,” Angie added. “She had a gift of connecting with new people and finding out their story. This made her a great salesperson because she could figure out what people needed. Her motto was the customer is king, and she would tell all of us (employees) that she was dirt under the rug compared to the customer.”
No wonder Nancy was able to build a loyal following. Patrons remember how hard she worked and how she made them feel. They knew going to Nancy meant going to get something special and unique. Nancy prioritized curating unique, quality inventory.
“She was a retailer,” Angie said. “She loved making a good buy and promoting it. One of her favorite sayings was, ‘You cannot sell from an empty wagon.’ Keeping the store brimming with good product was an art for her.”
Because Nancy was creative and service oriented, she knew how to not only start successful businesses, but she also knew how to create attractive products in those businesses.
“She loved theme shops and unique concepts for stores and loved creating new stores,” Angie shared. “She got ideas from her travels and then would want to start a new business. Creating Gardner Village gave her an opportunity to fill new shops with different concepts. Many of the stores she started, she’d end up selling to others to run.”
All of this is impressive for anyone to do at any time, but for a young mother to be able to take an old area of West Jordan, Utah, and turn it into thriving economic area during the ‘80s – an area that continues to grow and thrive today, thanks in great part to the lessons she taught her children – is an extraordinary accomplishment!
Yes, Nancy is deeply missed, but as this brief glimpse into her impressive life shows, she stays with us in the wisdom she leaves, the impressions she made, and the creations she dreamed up. Thank you, Nancy Long, for being willing to go out on that limb. The fruit you’ve harvested is plentiful and beautiful.
In loving memory of Nancy Long
1940 to 2022
Read more about Nancy’s brilliant story and find details on her celebration of life here.