Janice H. Smith, Retail Selling Icon, Dies at 73; Dressing 4 Generations of Customers From Around the World, Advocate of Short Skirts, Anything Red and Three-Inch Heels

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Store Manager, Binns of Williamsburg; 40 Plus Years of Fashion Advice to Virginian Residents

She was an example of southern charm, warmth and hospitality.

Janice H. Smith, store manager of Binns of Williamsburg, died on October 16th at Georgetown University Hospital, Washington, DC. While she did battle a brain tumor that she named "Oscar", she died from complications of Diverticulitis. Recent radiation put "Oscar" in his place, remission. Janice was determined to have it her way; "Oscar" was not going to win.

Janice has served over 4 generations of local and regional Virginia residents during her career. Starting out in the accounting office of Caseys Department Store, she cashed weekly payroll checks. However, her sales ability shown through, as she began selling school uniforms to countless families in Williamsburg and the surrounding communities.

Janice would say, "she began her retail career at the age of 5, selling Jonquils out of her red wagon on Duke of Gloucester St., in Williamsburg, VA." Steadfast and happy in town, Janice would complete her retail career after working for 50 years on that same street.

Many young girls' early childhood shopping experiences began at Binns, while playing dress-ups as their moms were being fitted by Janice. Little girls grew into young women in need of prom dresses, then as young adults needed bridesmaid dresses, and finally as women, they need special occasion gowns for their own affairs around the world.

Returning to Binns themselves as adults and through their referrals of friends, Janice's clientele "black book" grew to thousands. Clients ranged from celebrity fashion icons to dignitaries. Fashion experts such as Joan Rivers have shopped with Janice; congresswomen, husbands, children, entire families, all flocked. Janice became the "go to gal" for fashion needs, as well as when you needed to purchase that special gift for a loved one. Celebrities aside, Janice made everyone feel special and good about their choices about what to wear. It was her "regulars" that Janice prided herself in helping. It didn't matter to Janice who you were or from what walk of life you came; everyone was treated with the same enthusiasm, dignity and concern for their own sense of confidence in what they were about to wear. Time with Janice meant you had her attention and integrity, albeit at times, divided among multiple customers simultaneously; Janice was a multi-tasker. Along the way, Janice was a careful listener and never pushy. Husbands especially enjoyed trading jokes with Janice.

Janice formed lifelong friendships with her customers. Routinely offered most family's gossip, her customers' secrets were safe with her. Janice never repeated the secrets entrusted to her. She offered advice to all, and her influence reached far into the family affairs. If you were challenged to find the right doctor, Janice was quick to arrange a referral. Family pets were followed by Janice as closely as the kids. Janice was everyone's ambassador, everyone's advocate.

"A beautiful lady who helped shape me into the woman I am today passed away. Janice will be missed. If any of you knew her, she created a light in a room that shone very bright. She was an example of southern charm, warmth and hospitality. She was vibrant and happy all of the time," said, Tina Douglas Garrison.

Janice traveled to New York City on a regular basis as a buyer for Binns. Janice was such a regular on flights to NYC that flight attendants would recognize her and discuss recent purchases they acquired on their layovers in the area. She was known on 7th Avenue by representatives and designers of most of the major fashion houses. She often give advice, tweaking their designs to make them more salable or more flattering. Her skinny build allowed her to slip on samples, modeling for the Binns' buying team.

Janice set sales records in the retail industry, beating out other sales associates in much larger metropolitan areas. Binns of Williamsburg was selected as Best Specialty Store in the Nation and achieved numerous other distinctions called out by Woman's Wear Daily etc., while under her management.

Janice has helped thousands of customers from around the world during her career. Her keen sense of fashion and style, friendship and inspirational spirit will be missed by all.

Binns will not be the same without Janice.

Born to Oakley Woodland "Piggy" Hogg Sr.and Pearl "Elizabeth" Nuttall Hogg, she was the oldest of three children. Janice leaves behind a life of over fifty years with Thomas Edward "Ed "Smith, Sr. whom she has loved since high school. She devoted her life to her beloved children Kimberly Smith Jones and Thomas Edward Smith, Jr., also of Williamsburg. Left to cherish her memory are her brother Oakley Woodland "Woody" Hogg, Jr. of Mechanicsville, his wife Pam and children Tripp Hogg, Lizzy Losi and Jonathan Hogg. Also, her sister Vickie Hogg Nase of Williamsburg and son Kipp Campbell. Her loss will be felt by her great-aunt Sara Katherine "Kay" Weymouth.

Celebration of Life Service
Jamestown Island
Sunday, October 27th, 2013
Service at 4:00PM
Parking is available at the Visitors Center ON Jamestown Island*
For additional information or directions, please call Binns at 757.229.3391.

  • Please note that the service is actually on Jamestown Island, not at the Jamestown Settlement.

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Thomas Smith

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