By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
Travel Emporium in Fairmont is celebrating 20 years of wonderful friendships and great customer service and pricing.
Owner Peggy Slider, who grew up in Fairmont, started her business in July two decades ago because of her love of travel. She said she always wanted to be a travel writer, which didn’t pan out because of family and life, but she thought a travel agency would allow her to do what she enjoyed most.
“I always wanted to just see the world,” she said. “I learned, I studied and just opened my own agency then.”
Travel Emporium was initially located directly off Exit 137 of I-79, below the Clarion Inn in the building at the base of the hill where the High Life Lounge is now. Slider already owned and operated two other businesses, Emporium Antique Shop and Emporium Café, in that building and added Travel Emporium there.
Her antique shop was open from 1980 to 2002, and she ran the café for about eight years. Slider said they were great businesses, but she was exhausted from working early in the morning to late at night seven days a week and was ready to get her life back.
About nine years ago, she decided to sell the property and move her travel agency to another building she owned at 205 East Park Ave., which is still its home today.
Travel Emporium can help customers with planning for cruises, tours, hotel rentals, car rentals, train tickets, air tickets and more.
“We offer everything and anything related to travel,” Slider said. “There really isn’t any base of travel that we don’t cover for people, and that is worldwide.”
Popular destinations for clients in the area include Mexico, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Alaska and Europe. But the business also works with travelers going to more unusual places, she said.
Travel Emporium has seven employees, and all the agents are certified and specialize in various areas of the world. If there is a place where a customer wishes to travel, someone from the agency has most likely visited and studied it, Slider said.
Slider takes about six trips every year and tries to journey to a different place each time. She said she traveled to Turkey approximately three years ago and would love to go back, and Thailand is another favorite destination that she hopes to visit again. She also really enjoys Eastern and Western Europe.
Travel Emporium wants to help people make many memories throughout their lives, she said.
“I like getting up in the morning and thinking about where I’m going to send somebody,” Slider said. “We like doing honeymoon and destination weddings.”
As a member of Travel Savers, Travel Emporium is able to offer special discount pricing for clients. Plus, customers don’t have to pay a lot of extra fees on their travel packages, she said.
Slider said the big thing that Travel Emporium provides that the Internet doesn’t is customer service.
“It’s the customer service that people really need when they’re traveling today,” she said.
People are starting to move away from booking trips over the Internet and are going back to the agencies, Slider said. When people are making plans that are more complicated than just getting a hotel reservation, they can run into major problems on their own.
Slider has an insurance license and, in addition to travel packages, sells travel insurance to customers.
Travel Emporium has a tremendous amount of longtime customers who keep coming back for their travel needs.
“We love our clients,” Slider said. “We just become their friends and they become our friends. We really enjoy that part of it.”
The business helps clients from Marion County and North Central West Virginia, as well as people living in Florida, Dubai, Scotland, Hawaii and many other places. Travel Emporium works with its far-away customers over the phone and through email, she said.
“Most of the time those clients come to us through word of mouth,” Slider said. “They knew somebody who used us. That’s the way we gain the out-of-town people.”
Over the years, the business has seen a log of changes, particularly with the specializations it offers, and has experienced considerable growth, she said. Four other travel agencies existed in Marion County when Slider opened her business, and now Travel Emporium is the only one remaining.
“I think we’ve really pushed the bar and made people comfortable with us, and we have definitely grown tremendously over the years,” Slider said.
She said she hopes to add a few new agents to the team within the next year and continue growing the business.
Travel Emporium is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and also makes appointments with customers at other times to meet their needs.
For more information, visit www.emporiumtravel.4mydeals.com or call 304-363-5292.
Email Jessica Borders at firstname.lastname@example.org.