As you know, I am in my hometown of Cape Girardeau. And not that I want to brag, but Southeast Missouri has some great antique shops I can’t not visit when I’m home. One of my favorites (for all of my life) is Annie Laurie’s Antiques. Today, I’m so pleased to introduce you to owner Laurie Everett.
Hi Laurie and welcome. I’ve been a big fan of your store even before you took it over! Can you share with us how Annie Laurie’s came to be yours and what you did to make it your own?
I have always had a love for antiques and even before I purchased the shop I worked there and I was also a dealer. In 2006, the previous owner had decided to sell and I just knew in my heart that it was something I wanted to do. I purchased the building and the business and dove in head first.
You were a small business owner long before it became trendy to ditch corporate/conservative jobs and work for yourself. Has the recent push to support small businesses changed how you run your shop? How have you seen the public evolve over the years in regards to antiquing?
I have always been a go-getter and any job that I have ever had (including the military) I have worked hard at. I truly believe that no matter what you do, you should do it well.
We love small businesses and as a community we all try to support each other. We cross promote as much as possible and we are like a little family.
I love this question about how antiquing has evolved. When I first got in this business ten years ago I was by far the youngest person I knew in the business. Now I see lots of young people coming out of the shadows. I think it has to do with several things: antiques are now considered cool and trendy, the shows on tv about picking, repurposing, etc., and the economy. People are realizing that you can find amazing things, that are well made and less expensive than buying new. That is what I have always loved about vintage things. It seems like in American society everyone wants to have the same brand of clothes, the same hairstyle the same handbag, but for me I want to be an individual that is different from everyone else, with my own unique style and my home also reflects that personality. Be unique and individual!
Cape is really making strides to make its downtown a destination. Almost around the same time as the streetscape was under construction, you gave Annie Laurie’s a mini-makeover! What made you decide to take your building from white to terra cotta?
I live my life in color and from early on I really wanted to paint the building, but unfortunately there were a lot of other things that took priority over cosmetic needs. We have replaced all the windows, added heat and AC (it had neither), rewired the entire building, replaced two roofs (there are three), remodeled the entire upstairs (where we live), and replaced the majority of the plumbing. Finally we were able to utilize the Façade Improvement Program and got the building painted. I picked terra cotta because this building was built in the 1800s and it is going to crack and wear. This color will fade into something beautiful as the building continues to age.
Somewhat of a Southeast Missouri phenomenon, you found yourself at odds with local authorities for one of your mannequins. Can you explain that situation with our readers, and what it meant to you to have the support of the public?
I have always been an outside-of-the-box thinker and when a situation presents itself, I act upon it. The city added benches to Broadway and what a better way to greet our customers than to put one of our mannequins on the bench. She immediately got a lot of attention, but the city was not happy about her sitting on the bench and we were asked to remove her. I posted this on FB and we got so many comments that the city decided to revise their position. The city had a meeting about the mannequin and said that we would be allowed to put her on the bench as long as we wrote in for permission. We thought after all of that we should at least give her a name. We did a small naming contest and YOU had the favorite name….Zsa Zsa. We always appreciate the support we get from the public and this was no exception.
I’m still thrilled my name was chosen! What has been the most rewarding aspect of owning your own business? What advice would you give to someone with dreams of starting their own small business?
The most rewarding part for me is that I get to get up every day and do what I love. I also love living over my business, because if I want to work at night in my pajamas I can. The best advice that I can give to someone wanting to start their own business, is to make sure that you have a backup plan. It was not easy in the beginning–I worked three jobs for three years. I think a lot of people open businesses and think that they are immediately going to start making money, but that is not always the case. Plus you have to put money back into the business. Once I was secure enough in what the shop was making, I was able to hire employees, cut back on the other jobs and finally be just at the shop. Also as cliché as it sounds, customer service is essential and YOU are the face of your business. One bad experience can taint a business, but a great experience will cause people to come back. They will also tell their friends and word of the mouth is the best advertisement.
What can we expect to see in the coming months at Annie Laurie’s?
As you know every day is different at Annie Laurie’s. We bring in new items daily and our motto is Expect the Unexpected. As far as what is up and coming….loads of new stuff, vintage spring clothes and lots of fun ALWAYS.
I highly recommend visiting Annie Laurie’s if you are ever passing through Cape Girardeau. It is truly a gem for our small town. For more fun, you can visit Annie Laurie’s via Facebook, follow the shop on Pinterest, and read the blog here. Thanks again, Laurie!