Balliets is harboring a real treasure on Classen Curve. She's the immutable Lolly Sweeney, who recently celebrated her 67th year with Balliets. She has seen it all — fashions have come and gone and come again and gone again.
Sweeney has picked out clothes, dressed and maintained her customers through all of those years. One of her longtime customers (and friends) said Sweeney started helping her in college days and has helped her find outfits for 50 years.
“Her taste in impeccable,” the client said. “She's an institution at Balliets.”
Each weekday, Sweeney, 87, puts in a full day at the store. She checks out new styles, shows the fashions to her customers and calls to tell them about new arrivals. And she always looks the part of a fashion diva. For this interview, she wore a purple well-fitted textured leather jacket with dark gray pinstriped slacks.
“Lolly is a beautiful, elegant woman who has seen Balliets evolve from its origin downtown, under Edna Balliet, to the current location at Classen Curve,” said Balliets owner Bob Benham. “A lady in the best sense of the word, her impeccable sense of fashion has inspired loyalty from three generations of customers. We treasure her presence every day.”
Sweeney started at Balliets with owner Edna Balliet.
“My mother, Cleo Johnston, worked there and I was a part-time model for local department store, John A. Brown,” Sweeney said. “Edna said, ‘If you're going to model, work for me.' So I started as a model and assisted with sales.”
Longtime Balliets customer Barbara Beeler said she remembered her mother talking about Sweeney when she would model a wedding gown at the fancy style shows.
“Lolly has forgotten more about style than I will ever know,” Beeler said. “She always makes her ladies look good. I love her.”
Sweeney's first buying job for Balliets was Christian Dior furs. She was also a buyer for Buddy Rodgers who bought the store from Edna Balliet and until recently, was a New York buyer for Benham.
“John Jennings from the Peggy Jennings collection and Monica Meade from Oscar de la Renta are two friends who I know love Lolly,” said co-worker Charlene Wagner. “She's worked with so many of the vendors and put trunk shows together for them.