R.H. Reny founded what we now think of as “Maine’s department store” in 1949. But it’s his 32-year-old granddaughter, Faustine Reny, who today leads 550 employees at 17 Renys Department Stores throughout Maine—as far south Wells, as far north as Dexter and as far Down East as Ellsworth.
“Renys has always been about finding a really good value,” Faustine says. “We can compete with the big guys because we understand what a person here needs and wants.”
Her earliest memories of the store were of—not so surprisingly—the toy aisles. Her first job was as a receptionist—at Renys, of course. And, after almost a decade in Boston, where she earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting, she came home to Renys headquarters in Newcastle in 2009.
While her cousin, Adam Reny, found his niche as a buyer, Faustine found hers in overseeing human resources and finance. She supervised the new store opening in downtown Portland in 2011, followed a few months later by the new store in Topsham. This year, Faustine and Adam led the store opening in Windham.
“We all wear a lot of different hats,” she says. “Even though we’re a large company now, we’re still small operations-wise.”
After Boston, she was surprised by how many people in Maine wanted to call on the phone or have sit-down meetings rather than emailing.
“But now I even find myself saying, you need to stop by,” she says. “It’s about courtesy. … Our average tenure in retail is 10 years, which is unheard of in other retail stores, and we have many employees who have been here 20 or 25 years. I don’t know what the magic is, but they really liked knowing my grandfather, and my father and my uncle, and now me and Adam, and knowing they’re working for a Maine company.”
And now many also know Faustine’s 21-month-old daughter, Cordelia, who is in awe of the toy aisles.
Amy Paradysz is a writer, editor and photographer who lives in Scarborough.