By Megan M. Seckman

(L-R) Nan, Elyse, Laura and Lydia Taylor run Taylor Trunk. 

The Taylor women know their luggage — it’s in their blood. After all, Taylor Trunk has been part of the Louisville landscape, and run by their family, for five generations. Surrounded by fine leather, luggage sets, and handbags at their store on Hurstbourne Lane, mother, Laura Taylor, and daughter, Elyse Taylor recounted the tale of Taylor Trunk history with pride.

Started in 1883 by Joseph Taylor, the business began selling giant steamer trunks used for travel by train. These cedar-lined beauties with solid brass hardware were built to last, but they weighed a ton. In today’s market, with an emphasis on lightweight and compact, Taylor Trunk has had to reinvent itself to keep up with the current travel market.

Laura Taylor says what keeps her customers coming despite the shift away from brick and mortar retail is the personal nature of the store. “People come here to get educated. There is a map,” she points behind her to a giant world map filled with tacks, “that we mark for our customers’ destinations. We live vicariously through their travel and share a bit in their journey.”

Nan Taylor (left) and Laura Taylor provide customers with practical and stylish options that make traveling easier.
Photos by Patti Hartog 

Elyse Taylor, 24, recently received her MBA from Bellarmine University and joined the family business. “When I was 3, I was putting stickers on products. Now I help research and market our products in the store and online. My grandfather, who still takes the deposits at Christmas and lives across the street from us, jokes, ‘Did you sell luggage in your sleep last night?’” Elyse and her sister Lydia, 19, also help with online sales and social media to keep the business current.

The family pride within the store is evident. Owners Robert and Laura run the business with help from their sister-in-law, Nan, as well. Through the generations, there has been a lot of change, but the educational factor has remained consistent. “Travel used to be so glamorous,” Laura explains, “but now it’s a bit of a hassle. So that’s where we come in. We can help.”

What to Carry: Luggage advice from the Taylor women
1. Anti-theft Bags
If traveling abroad to high-profile tourist destinations such as Paris, Rome, or Barcelona, the Taylors recommend an anti-theft bag for protection. “Nothing can kill a trip quicker than having your money or identity stolen,” Laura says.

These handbags, backpacks, and fanny packs are made from slash-resistant fabrics and lined with a wire webbing to prevent a perpetrator from cutting the straps. They have zipper locks to prevent pick-pocketing and are RFID protected (Radio Frequency Identification) to prevent the unlawful scanning of your personal information.

2. Best Luggage Line
Elyse Taylor highly recommends the Briggs and Riley line. She used it herself on her recent trip abroad. The luggage comes with a lifetime warranty, so the upfront investment pays off down the line. “You can buy cheap luggage and have to replace it in a few years, or spend a little more and have it for a lifetime, even will it to the next generation. It actually will save you money in the long-run.”

The line is rated #1 by Consumer Reports and is made of bulletproof material. Elyse explains that the first things to wear-out on luggage are the zippers and wheels, and Briggs and Riley will replace luggage when these fail. Her other advice is to talk to a sales representative about carry-on bag restrictions and warned that some luggage brands advertise their dimensions incorrectly because they don’t include the additional length added by the wheels.

3. For the Outdoors
Also recommended by Consumer Reports, the Eagle Creek line is what Elyse recommends for outdoor excursions. This line is waterproof, abrasion resistant, compact, lightweight, and has a fantastic warranty.

“People should always buy luggage with a warranty. Airports are rough with your luggage and it can be damaged easily. This line has a great warranty and would make a great gift for someone going off to college. You can buy them a bag that can last their whole life,” Elyse said.

4. Splurge Worthy: Fine Leather
Laura recommends leather for a splurge-worthy investment. “Fine leather never goes out of style and only looks better with age after it develops a beautiful patina. You can have a nice leather bag last you forever.”