Amanda Laurence had been thinking for some time about opening her own home décor business. A dinner out at a Church Street restaurant in her beloved downtown Fairhope cemented her plan.
“I looked up and there was a “For Rent” sign in this window” at 14 S. Church St., a golden stone building known for the curve of its two bay windows, she recalls. “I immediately texted the owner and he called me within 15 or 20 minutes.”
Spencer and Maryann Johnson, owners of a British import shop known as the Church Mouse and the adjoining Fairhope Fly Shop, had been thinking about retiring, or at least Maryann had, Amanda said.
“We came to terms in the first week of June” for the first-floor space previously occupied by Church Mouse, Amanda said. Spencer decided to keep the fly shop going. It took the Johnsons a couple of months to move the British antiques out. Meanwhile, Amanda started ordering furniture, kitchen accessories and gifts. “Two close friends had always said, “If you do this, we want to come work for you,’” so they quit their jobs and the three cleaned and rethought the space. Willow + Gray Home opened its doors Sept. 28 and had its grand opening Oct. 6. By the holiday season, the store was up to eight employees.
“We did it all in a few months” amidst a global pandemic, Amanda said proudly, noting it was the right kind of business in the right place. “We live in Mayberry,” she said. Fairhope’s small town feel and proximity to one of Alabama’s premier resorts, The Grand Hotel, made getting the business off the ground workable, even during the coronavirus, she said. Residents looking to improve their home environments also contributed to a successful first five months of operation.
FEATURED NEW MEMBER
dba WILLOW + GRAY HOME
FOUNDED: September 2020
OWNER and DESIGNER: Amanda Laurence
NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 8
LOCATION: 14 S. Church Street, Fairhope, AL 36532
MEMBER SINCE: Sept. 1, 2020
ADDRESS: 14 S. Church Street, Fairhope AL 36532