This month, Melba Mebane, who is 90 years old, ended her amazing 74-year sales job at Dillard’s in Texas, where she was based. Melba was there for a very long time, but she never missed a day of work or called in sick.
Melba started working for Dillard’s in 1949 as a “elevator girl” at the Mayer & Schmidt department store, which Dillard’s bought in 1956. James Saenz, the store manager at Dillard’s in Tyler, told Fox News Digital, “Melba sets the tone for everything, every expectation, and every customer service quality that we look for in a luxury experience.”
Saenz praised Melba for her important services to the team and talked about how she can coach, teach, and motivate others.
Melba said that she liked working with “great ladies who love to eat, laugh, and joke around.” One of these is Ginger Wimbs, who has been her friend for 33 years. Wimbs likes Melba because she is honest, good with clients, and can turn a small sale into a big one.
Melba raised her son, Terry Mebane, on her own while she worked. Terry is now a financial manager in Tyler. Terry talks about how much his mother’s hard work helped them when he was growing up in Dillard’s. Melba began in the lift and moved quickly to the men’s clothing section and then to the cosmetics section. Terry remembers how creative his mother was when it came to selling things, especially gift boxes.
Melba had such a great reputation as a salesperson that perfume companies would give her free samples to get her to sell their products. Terry joked that his mother was the “cosmetic bootlegger” because she liked to give these samples as gifts.
Over the years, Melba became a well-liked figure in the store and became close with the business leaders of the Dillard family. Terry said that his mother was the store’s heart and that she often helped smooth things over when the shop was being inspected.
Terry was motivated by the way Melba worked hard all the time. He called her a “grinder” because she was always the first one in the door and ate lunch as quickly as possible so she wouldn’t miss a chance to make a sale. Melba was able to make her job fit her needs as she got older, thanks to the kindness of the Dillard family. This shows how much she has helped the company over the years.
Melba worked almost full-time in her 70s and 80s, putting in four eight-hour days each week. “If it was snowing or raining in the winter, I took her to work and picked her up, so she didn’t have to drive in those conditions,” her son Terry said.
Terry said that Melba’s longer time at Dillard’s was very good for the store. “There is still a generation out there that would come to the counter looking for her,” he said.
When customers found out she wasn’t there, they would leave rather than let someone else help them. This shows how Melba’s influence on customer loyalty lasted for a long time.
Melba thought it was time to stop working when she was 90 years old and had been sick for a few weeks. Terry said, “Father Time beat her up.” “She said, ‘I just turned 90, I’m not driving anymore, and most of my friends aren’t here anymore.’ Things changed because they became more about transactions. Even though Melba was a lot older than her coworkers, she made a big impression on everyone who met her. Terry said that everyone in the mall knew her.