By Jessica Isaacs | [email protected]
Photos by Ken Ketchie
Another small business in Boone will close its doors this summer, this time after 31 years of serving its friends and neighbors in the High Country.
Over the years, its staff has helped countless homeowners furnish their living spaces, and Shannon’s remains the only local retail shop of its kind in the community.
Like many small businesses, the store has suffered in the wake of economic disaster and a housing market that has still not recovered entirely from its crash in 2008.
Store owner Shannon Russing says her limited access to merchandise due to overseas manufacturing is one of several reasons the shop isn’t making enough sales to stay in business.
“I used go to go New York twice a year. There were a dozen big textile mills that had showrooms I could go to. I’d go in and say, ‘I’ll take this and that and that,’ and then it would be made, often in North or South Carolina or Georgia, and I had lots of choices,” said Russing. “When all of the manufacturing started being moved overseas, with all of the consolidation of the mills and many mills shutting down, a lot of the big retailers started to go to China with their own designers and have their own merchandise made to their specifications, and I can’t participate in that.”
Shannon’s can no longer purchase the kind of merchandise its customers are looking for — one of many dilemmas that Russing says are hurting small business owners everywhere.
“In the good old days, Belk would go to the same showrooms and place an order for certain bedding styles. Dillard’s would come in, and they may not the same two styles, but they would do the same thing. Macy’s would come in and do that, too. Those things were being produced here, so I could tack my orders onto what they were ordering,” she said. “Now, a department store has its own design people and they have everything they want made overseas. It’s just a sign of the times.
“Our product assortment is not necessarily what we would like it to be. We can’t offer our customers the things we think they would want, because we just can’t buy the merchandise.”
In its heyday, the store’s vast and loyal client base, which included second homeowners, would often make trips to Shannon’s to furnish multiple rooms and houses. Today, many of those clients are aging and downsizing, and many can no longer afford to keep second homes since the housing market crash.
“The housing market made a huge difference to us starting in 2008, and it never really recovered,” said Russing. “We used to have people furnish five bedrooms at once. We rarely have that anymore.”
The ever widening cultural focus on online shopping that has plagued small business across the country has also taken its toll on Shannon’s.
“It’s a generation thing. Younger kids shop online. I don’t want to sound negative, but they see no reason to be loyal to anybody. It’s not just youngsters, but we have people come in here, look at our merchandise, take pictures and then go see if they can find it cheaper online,” Russing explained. “I just don’t have the magic answer anymore. A lot of it is the throwaway generation. People don’t buy things to be long lasting or for quality. They just wanted to get rid of it when they’re tired of it.”
Although the Russings are reluctant to close the doors on a business they have built from the ground up, Shannon and her daughter Sarah, a talented interior designer, can’t ignore the difficult truths they’re facing as entrepreneurs.
“It’s hard. This has been my baby for 31 years,” said Russing. “It’s hard to give it up, and, yet, there’s so many factors I can’t control or change. We just can’t justify continuing because we are losing money all the time.”
Inventory liquidation sales begin today at Shannon’s, and how quickly the merchandise is sold will determine the store’s final closing date.
Shannon’s will continue to operate during its normal business hours, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, during the liquidation, and all sales are final.
Sarah and Shannon say they’ll always be grateful for the loyal customers they’ve had over time and for the staff members like Janice Tester and Dionne Lanphear who have been their partners in business for many years.
“I’d really, really like to thank all of the people who have supported us over the years,” said Shannon. “We’ve had some really good customers and some really good people who are upset for us. There are no other stores like this one, and I wish people would realize what they’re losing when they don’t support local businesses.”
Shannon’s Curtain, Bed and Beth is located at 1950 Blowing Rock Road in Boone across from the Holiday Inn Express. Call 828-264-8321 or visit the store on Facebook for more information.