Selma native Mandy Henry is a real estate agent and developer, a licensed home builder specializing in renovations and a retail store owner.
“Mandy Henry believes in Selma, the Queen City of the Black Belt,” said Sheryl Smedley, executive director of the Selma and Dallas County Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Information.
That is why Mandy named her home décor and clothing boutique, Queen City Market, and why the chamber bestowed her with its 2021 Woman of Business Award.
What would become Queen City Market started in 2015 in an 800-square-foot space in Selma’s downtown historic district. “I wanted to prove that retail could make it in Selma,” Mandy said. “It has always been my dream to have a retail store.”
Her dream quickly outgrew that “tiny spot” and has since moved into four different buildings Mandy owns or co-owns on Broad Street, the main artery in downtown Selma – 127, 201, 121 and 125.
In 2017, the store was at 127 Broad, but “we needed more room,” Mandy said, so she relocated the business to the ground floor of the historic Woolworth’s building at 201 Broad in July of 2018.
By March of 2021, the store moved and expanded again, this time into two connecting historic buildings.
“I really needed to separate Queen City’s clothes and the furniture, and I needed more office space for my construction and real estate businesses,” she said. Mandy heads up a team for Montgomery-based RE/MAX Tri-Star in Selma and Dallas County, and she also operates Mandy Henry Design and Construction LLC. She runs all three from her office behind, but accessible to, the retail space.
The furniture and home goods portion of Queen City Market is at 121 Broad St., an Art Deco structure built in 1929 for S.H. Kress & Co. department store. The prior tenant was a jewelry store that operated in Selma for 171 years. The Queen City Market clothing boutique is next door in what was previously a bridal shop. “Originally 125 and 127 were one big building,” said Mandy. Before it was split into two spaces, the larger structure housed Kayser’s Liepold’s department store.
Mandy said operating today’s retail out of yesterday’s retail spaces excites her. “I love historic buildings,” she said. “I also think the historic district is the heart of any community, especially Selma.”
In April of 2020, less than a month into a worldwide pandemic, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell sought out Mandy to serve on a COVID-19 Advisory Council. The congresswoman said she chose Mandy because Queen City Market “has not only become a beloved staple in the Selma community, but it also attracts customers from surrounding counties, which helps Selma’s overall economy.”
Mandy said she willingly “reached out to local retailers and others I knew within our region to see what troubles they were facing and to give them knowledge about what mandates and restrictions were coming for our brick-and-mortar businesses.” The Selma congressional representative said, “Mandy provided an invaluable perspective on how small retail businesses could reopen safely, strategically and responsibly.”
After the early shutdown and adjusting to social distancing and masking, “sales are good and strong,” Mandy said at the end of 2021.
Lessons of 2021 and Hopes for 2022
Selling comes easy for Mandy, who has a degree in advertising and business. Her challenge in 2021 and moving into 2022 is getting inventory for the furniture side of her business. “It is hard to get what I need at the price point my customers’ are willing to pay,” she said. “I’m waiting on pieces that have been back ordered for two years.”
Mandy continues to invest in her hometown of Selma, which has gained new developments, apartments, lofts and restaurants in the past year. “My idea is for it to blossom,” she said. “I want it to be a place where the community can enjoy it, support it and spend time on the weekends shopping.”
As for Queen City Market, she plans to continue to grow the apparel side of the business instore and online in 2022, while continuing to serve home décor clients in Selma as well as those from Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Birmingham who have discovered the store.
“Retail is constantly changing,” she said. “You have to reevaluate and go with the times.”
MEMBER SINCE 2019
Queen City Market occupies two connecting buildings in downtown Selma. Home décor can be found in 121 Broad St., left, and apparel and accessories in 125 Broad St. The store is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Wednesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. Visit online at shopqueencitymarket.com
Story and photos by Nancy King Dennis
This article also appears on Pages 4 and 5 of the February 2022 Alabama Retailer
Originally posted at 11:15 a.m. Jan. 30, 2022