Leslie Turk

After 29 years Frosts leaving mall, business

by Leslie Turk

No matter how much the retail landscape changed over the years, there was always one thing you could count on: the mother-daughter team at Merle Norman in the Mall of Acadiana. "We're like a dinosaur," says Jan Frost Williams, who along with her mother, Gloria, has been a fixture at the mall for the past three decades -- since before construction on the mall was even complete. But that's about to change, as Gloria Frost this week sold her successful Merle Norman store to Robert and Sylvia Perez.

The Frosts actually sold the Merle Norman location in the mid-1980s and ran a Benetton store in the mall. They bought it back several years later and along with Chick-fil-A are the mall's most tenured tenants. The Mall of Acadiana Merle Norman store has been one of highest producing in the chain, which has about 2,000 independently owned and operated stores in the United States and Canada.The Frosts' store was No. 1 in sales in 2001 and No. 2 in 2000. It continues to rank in the top 10.

Merle Norman is headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif.

Reached this morning, Gloria was busy finalizing inventory on the store and did not have time to comment about the sale. She did say this marks her retirement.

"I'm not really sure," Jan says about her future. "I'm going to take a week off, [and then] I'm available if anybody wants me."