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The Passing of the Keys: The Peddler Gets New Owners



BY LEE RENICK | PHOTOGRAPHY BY LEE RENICK AND ERIC LUSK

Sometimes mixed clichés say it all: All good things come to an end, and endings mean new beginnings. For Jane Jones and Mary Ann Richardson, the founders of The Peddler, now is the time to turn their well-known business over to new owners. Time to explore the next chapters in their lives.

Design is changing; they feel a younger generation of owners can help younger buyers with the new trends. For 47 years, Jane and Mary Ann have helped their customers pull their homes together, choosing everything from china to furniture, artwork to linens, and all kinds of gifts. It is time to pass the torch.

HOW IT ALL STARTED
The business opened in May of 1972. Jane and Mary Ann had met at a realtor’s party, discovering that they both loved antiques and decorating their homes. They began antiquing and home decorating together as they anxiously awaited the arrival of their babies. “We found ourselves with too much time on our hands,” said Jane, “and we decided to open a business.”
Jane had been buying and selling estate jewelry, and Mary Ann was on the numbers side. They opened their first store in Jackson Heights under the theater. “Lesson one, never open a retail business in a basement,” said Mary Ann.

While they stayed there for three years, they eventually moved to what was the K-Mart Shopping Center. The initial draw to Peddler was the estate jewelry, followed by antiques and gifts. Once they moved to the Georgetown Square location when it opened, they gradually phased out the antiques.

“As we got busier,” said Jane, “it was harder to go to the auctions and the estate sales.” Still, they did Christmas Village and Antique Shows for 17 years. That is how they started gaining exposure in the community.

WHAT YOU CARRY IS FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS
Another thing that Jane and Mary Ann learned over the years is that you need to buy things that aren’t always to your taste. “You have to get to know your clientele,” said Jane. “There are things that you buy that you are sure will be a big seller, and then they aren’t.” And then there are those items that take off.

As part of their gift section in the 1980s, they carried both Beanie Babies and Cabbage Patch Kids, experiencing some of the Cabbage Patch Kid crazy of the era. “A car would pull up to the front door,” said Jane, “and there would be a runner who would come into the shop to get what they could. They always seemed to know when the UPS truck arrived.”

GETTING INTO INTERIOR DESIGN
The Peddler got into interior design because customers wanted Jane and Mary Ann to pull their homes together after they had been buying furniture and accessories from them for years. Jerome Farris helped them build the design business.

“Jerome worked for us part time in high school,” said Jane, “then he decided to go into design, getting his degree from MTSU. He stayed, and has continued to stay. He will be working with the new owners, too.”

Retail is hard work, but Jane and Mary Ann feel that it has been an honor and a privilege to serve each of their customers. They have adored getting to know their clients as they brought their interior design teams into their client’s homes to help them become places of beauty.

THANKS TO CUSTOMERS, STAFF, AND FRIENDS
“Some of the friends we have made were from being in business;” said Jane, “people who came into the store.”

“Our success and duration was because of each of our customers,” said Mary Ann. “We have the deepest gratitude to each and every client, and to every single employee we have ever had.”

They are delighted to be passing the store on to Kathy Jones and her daughter, Alison, who have been customers for years. “We feel that the store is being passed into more than capable hands,” said Jane and Mary Ann, “and has a bright future.”

NEW OWNERS WANT TO CONTINUE THE LEGACY
Kathy Jones and her daughter, Alison, have been long time customers of The Peddler. Being able to carry on the business, which has become such a fixture in the community, is a dream for both parties.

“I’ve loved The Peddler, and I’ve shopped there all my life,” said Kathy. “In casual conversations over the last year, I discovered that Jane and Mary Ann might be ready to retire. I certainly did not want to see The Peddler close. So, my daughter Alison and I started discussing the option of approaching Jane and Mary Ann about a potential purchase of the business. Our discussions started last summer, and finally came together during the holidays. We were thrilled to be able to make the announcement on New Year’s Eve - a perfect reason for a celebration as far as we were concerned!”

“Purchasing The Peddler will provide me with the opportunity to combine so many things that I love into one ‘job’,” said Alison. “My family, home decor and interior design, the retail industry, and Murfreesboro. I’m thrilled that the timing worked out the way it did.”

LONG-TIME BACKGROUND IN RETAIL AND COMMUNITY
Alison is a graduate of the prestigious Parsons New School for Design in New York City. She has worked in the fashion and entertainment industries for eight years, and most recently as Director of Retail for Gurney’s Resorts, a boutique chain of luxury resorts with locations in Montauk, New York and Newport, Rhode Island. She worked with them to launch and oversee their retail department, including gift shops, eCommerce, pop-up shops, and private label merchandise for the resorts.

Kathy Jones, and her husband, Bill, have both worked in Murfreesboro and Rutherford County for most of their careers. She is a realtor, and has long been on the Murfreesboro Planning Commission. Also, Kathy had a business called Artisan Design Gallery from 2009 - 2016. She hopes to add the work from a few of the jewelry and/or glass artisans that she worked with then into the stock at The Peddler.

A LIFETIME OF SHOPPING AT THE PEDDLER
Both Alison and Kathy have great memories of shopping in The Peddler from very young ages. “The first real memory I have of shopping in The Peddler,” said Kathy, “was when I was 15 or 16. The Peddler was located downstairs, beneath the movie theatre in Jackson Heights Shopping Center. There was a ring I just loved, but it was 40 dollars! Jane and Mary Ann let me pay them 10 dollars a month for four months so I could buy the ring. I was one happy customer!”

Alison also has early memories of The Peddler. “When I was about 10,” said Alison, “I remember getting to go to The Peddler to spend some of my allowance. I purchased a plush dog toy, Pepper, for 12 dollars, which I still have… It was the first purchase I made with my own money.”

Obviously, Alison and Kathy are not the only ones that have come back again and again. Alison feels people love that they can come in and find the perfect gift for so many occasions, leave with it beautifully wrapped, and also get something for themselves! Kathy adds that the personal service is an additional factor.

FAMILY TIES TO THE STORE
“I love that it has always been a fixture in my life,” said Alison, “and now it will continue to be so.” As a matter of fact, her great-grandmother Edna Willis, fondly known as “CooCoo”, was Jane and Mary Anne’s first employee. And as her mother and grandmothers shopped at The Peddler her whole life, it already feels like a family business.

There are some things they will do to add some of their personal touches, but they both feel that Jane and Mary Ann have done an amazing job to keep their business going for 47 years. “I think we need to pay attention to all the things they’ve done right,” said Kathy, “and then see what we can do to add to that - but I don’t know that we will really change a whole lot.” “I just hope to continue their good work,” says Alison.

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