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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Hazards of the Trade

A boutique owner's intimate reveal of the 1980s and 90s lingerie boom

by (author) Phyllis L. Humby

Crossfield Publishing
Initial publish date
Apr 2020
Personal Memoirs, Fashion
Recommended Age
15 to 18
Recommended Grade
10 to 12
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2020
    List Price

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Hazards of the Trade is an intimate exposé of the retail fashion industry during the 80s and 90s when lingerie was most popular. The era began with retailers in impossibly high heels and designer suits attending the Ontario Fashion Exhibitors market at the prestigious King Edward Hotel and ended with buyers in rubber-soled shoes and stretch pants at the Airport Centre. While high-end fashion shows and buying trips might seem glamorous, evading a stalker and trying to evict a rabid squirrel from the shop, might not. But it was all part of being in the Trade. That, and so much more. Hazards of the Trade is a personal disclosure of nearly twenty years of humorous and sad reflections from the naïve start-up of a small-town lingerie boutique to the ultimate farewell.

About the author

Although Phyllis's passion for writing began with longer works, her short stories — often scheming, twisted, or spooky — have appeared in anthologies and journals in Canada, the U.S.A, and the U.K. She is a past second—place winner in the Your McMurray Magazine (YMM) national competition, and a recipient of the Bony Pete Award for Best Short Story at the Crime Writers' Conference in Toronto. In 2013, Phyllis' humorous story Delusional Dates won her a place as a Fringe Reader at the Eden Mills Writers' Festival, located near Guelph Ontario. Her first novel, Hazards of the Trade, was released in April 2020.
Phyllis has built a loyal following through her writing blog and Facebook page, in addition to reading her monthly column, "Up Close and Personal" in First Monday magazine. Phyllis lives in Lambton Shores near London, Ontario.
Visit her on Twitter @PLHumbyAuthor as well as her author and book pages on Facebook.

Phyllis L. Humby's profile page

Excerpt: Hazards of the Trade: A boutique owner's intimate reveal of the 1980s and 90s lingerie boom (by (author) Phyllis L. Humby)

Fur Accessories

Unforgettable days usually begin in a mundane manner. And so it was on that brisk fall morning in my first retail location in an old building. While checking the previous day’s sales something distracted me. A movement. A sound. I held my breath. There it was again. A scratching sound in the ductwork next to me. It was too dark inside the floor grate to see anything. Then the darkness shifted. I jumped, pitching my wicker stool back against the wall. The ornate metal floor grate began to lift. My heart pounding, I reached for the nearest rack. Belts swung in a riot of colour as I slid the heavy display over the grate. Whatever dark furry thing I’d seen inside the vent would stay inside the vent. I rushed around the shop placing baskets and displays over all the other floor grates. The only time I’d gone down to the basement in that old building was when I was deciding whether to lease the space. With its cobwebs and dank dark corners I wouldn’t even consider using it for storage. Horrible smells sometimes emanated from beneath my charming boutique. It helped that I sold aromatic products. I’d often burn scented candles on the long low sales counter. But this was a whole new dilemma. No amount of potpourri or fragrant drawer liners could eliminate rodents. The chimes above the door tinkled. I whirled toward the front of the store. “Morning.” I cleared my throat. “Mrs. Lorman, how are you? “Pantyhose? Sure.” Mrs. Lorman followed me to the rectangular chrome rack, the corner of which was holding a grate to the floor. Distracted, I intended to confirm Mrs. Lorman’s size but instead asked, “How old are you?” She snorted, “What did you say?” “I mean… how tall are you?” I swallowed hard as a furry back pressed up against the grate. “Here,” I spoke too loudly, “let’s move to the counter and I’ll ring these up for you.” “But I want more than one pair.” “I’ll get them.” “But I need to pick a different shade.” She sounded annoyed. “No problem. Why don’t you relax on the divan. I’ll bring the sample swatches over.” My mouth twitched as I tried to smile. Mrs. Lorman, her look lingering and suspicious, took a seat on the divan in the centre of the store. The sale was finished in record time. If not for the wild intruder trapped in my ductwork, I would have shown my customer the new arrivals. And asked if she needed hosiery detergent. Or whether she’d be interested in purchasing a lace organizer for pantyhose — I could barely keep them in stock. But I was anxious to get her out of the store before she saw whatever it was that was trying to escape from under the grate. If she’d noticed what was happening, word would have spread all over town and women would be too afraid to shop in my store.

Editorial Reviews

A sure delight to read. It made me laugh, cry and nod my head in remembrance of those days of craving beautiful lingerie, waited on by professional women in an intimate area and all wrapped up in a pretty box. All us girls were in that era together! Sadly those days are gone but Phyllis L. Humby delightfully captured the heart and soul of those days. Written with honesty heart and humour a must read! Would recommend it to anyone. Kathleen M. I finished reading Hazards ages ago and was wanting to read more. All tasteless jokes aside, I am not exactly the demographic you would think would be interested in a memoir centred on a lingerie shop. But, I would happily recommend this book to anyone who enjoys skillful engaging writing and a friendly voice. Bob B. Humour is often difficult to write but Phyllis L Humby weaves her wit seamlessly in her memoir and debut trade book Hazards of the Trade, virtually launched by Crossfield Publishing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bravo, I say, and not because I know and have followed the journey of this seasoned writer for a long time (which I fully disclose here), but because she has a special gift.
Gregarious with a natural flair for creating entertaining stories, this Canadian writer and columnist often lights up a room with her infectious laughter. This unique ability to razzle-dazzle and woo her customers (and readers) is evident throughout her book.
Aptly subtitled: An Intimate Reveal of the 80s and 90s Lingerie Boom, her memoir shares the inner workings of a boutique she owned and operated in a small but prosperous southwestern Ontario community.
Definitely an entertaining book to read while escaping from all our COVID-19 concerns! Debbie H. 
Such a fun and well written read. Each chapter flows into the next with ease and anticipation. I laughed out loud more than once. Who would think a memoir about owning a lingerie shop in a small Ontario town could be so entertaining! Stacy M. Well written and entertaining from cover to cover. Most enjoyable. Gloria P. Love, love love this book, if flows along, good reading, fun story. More stories please, love the cover design. Shirley B.