Lindsley Bowen is feeling all sorts of emotions this week, but the one that is yelling loudest is gratitude. Her shop in downtown Hillsborough, Carlisle & Linny Vintage Jewelry, is entering its fifth successful year in business.
“This community is absolutely generous in supporting small, locally-owned businesses,” Bowen said. “We couldn’t be prouder that people choose to shop with and support us.”
Bowen opened her shop in an old train caboose in the Daniel Boone Antique Village in 2014. While waiting tables and doing landscaping side jobs, she ran the shop and garnered loyal customers. In 2015, a disagreement with her landlord forced her to find a new location. She settled in a small shop on West Margaret Lane that was half the size of the caboose, painted in high-gloss white and designed to feel like one was entering a bright jewelry box.
“At 120 square feet, 4 people was a crowd,” Bowen said. “But I loved that location and it allowed me to keep my ears to the ground about any locations that would become available on Churton Street.”
While driving to Asheville on New Year’s Eve Day in 2016, Lindsley received a call that the shop at 112 S Churton St was closing and the space was up for lease. The landlord of the property, Jim Horton, was looking for an established, local business to move in to the space and chose Carlisle & Linny Vintage Jewelry as the new tenant.
“Location, location, location. Being able to move my business to Churton Street was the feather in my cap,” Bowen said. “It was a huge leap and I wasn’t sure we could financially handle the rent increase, but I took that leap on faith and it really paid off. Our customer base doubled and walk-by traffic brought in so many new customers.”
Going from 120 square feet to 620 was daunting, but Lindsley was able to put out more inventory which was previously held in storage.
When entering the Churton Street store, not only will you find more space, but window displays on both sides of the door that change monthly, often highlighting community events and local citizens. Vintage hats, handbags, jewelry boxes, mirrors and of course, jewelry, line the walls and shelves of the shop while old jazz tunes play on the stereo. Bowen greets her customers as old friends and they hang on to her every word as she tells the history of the maker of a vintage brooch or the materials used in an enamel bracelet.
She also points to the work of the town and the Hillsborough-Orange County Chamber of Commerce as being integral to growth for not only her shop but all downtown businesses.
Economic Development Planner Shannan Wilson checks in frequently to see how businesses are doing and what the town can do to improve visitor experiences. To Bowen, the sidewalk expansion has improved walkability and brought more tourism. The Chamber is also pro-active and encourages business owners to meet monthly to work together on events and marketing.
As the Downtown Merchant Ambassador, Bowen works to improve communication between the town, chamber and business owners. The store also enjoys sponsoring local events, including this Wednesday’s fundraiser at Hot Tim Roof raising money for the Orange County Historical Society.
“I think part of being a responsible business owner is being a real part of the community,” she said. “I want to be involved and I want the shop to be involved. This community made us and it’s important to me to give back.”
To honor four years in business and the town, the shop will be hosting a celebration this weekend on Saturday, May 12 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Look forward to refreshments, live music, Whit’s Frozen Custard, a kitten adopt-a-thon and store specials. Plus, the store’s new façade and new sign will be revealed. Also, shop dog Tucker will be enjoying his third birthday.
For further information, you may email the shop at carlisleandlinny@hotmail. com.