Spotlight on Van Alstyne – Abby Lane Home Décor and Gifts
We recently wandered in to Abby Lane Home Décor and Gifts and looked at the many different items for sale. After checking everything out, we sat down with owner Shannon Morgan, and had a wonderful time talking and learning about her store and what brought her to Van Alstyne.
We noticed that the vibe of Shannon’s shop was very eclectic, so we asked her how she got started and what made her decide to open up her store in Van Alstyne.
Shannon explained, “I started working retail when I was 15. My first job was at Neiman Marcus. I’ve always loved retail, the aspect of meeting so many new people, and so I worked a lot of retail jobs. My father had to take a medical retirement. He knew a woman in our neighborhood that had a little neighborhood gift shop and he asked what it would take to do something like that. We were going to do a shop together, and then he passed away, and that didn’t happen, so, I went to work in corporate America, a little more stable than retail. I stayed in corporate America about 7 ½ years, long enough to glean a lot of business sense. Towards the end of that career I got a part time retail job and realized that I really missed retail. During that time I had gotten married, had kids. So, when I started back in retail I rented half a space at an antique mall. It wasn’t long before I went to a full space, and then on to two spaces, then I was like ‘you know what, I should just open a space of my own.’ So, I opened my first store in downtown McKinney in 2000. At that time I had a friend of mine as a business partner. I was the creative one and she was the financial person; that was her background. It was a really good working relationship. Once she had her third baby, she ended up leaving the store. That happened at a time where my mom was needing more and more care, so when Tracy left I closed the McKinney store and opened a small shop in Sherman, near where my mother was in an assisted living center, so it was very convenient to be near her. When my mom moved to a nursing home, I closed my store altogether and then she passed in Jan 2006. By November of that year I was going stir crazy. This building was available, so I leased it. I bought the building the following June. When I opened, I wasn’t really ready to open that soon, I didn’t have very much inventory. John Houck, who owned the hardware store, told me about a parade that was about to happen in town and asked if there was any way I could be open in time for the parade on December 2nd. Because I didn’t have much inventory at the time, I ended up doing a very soft opening on parade day. Lots of people came in. Here I am 12 years later, with perseverance and God’s will it’s what it’s supposed to be.”
There are so many cool things to look at in the store – vintage items, pretty jewelry, neat paintings and cute blouses - what made you choose to open a store with a variety of interesting items?
Shannon: “I was really interested in showcasing local artisans. I make all my jewelry; a local artist has some paintings in the store. I have a guy that makes beautiful cutting boards. Over the years I’ve had several local people featured in my shop. That was real important to me to have local artisans to showcase their work. I sell vintage, I have antiques, and I redo all my furniture if it needs to be redone. As far as the clothing part of my business, I had never carried clothing before, but my husband and I went into a shop while in Branson, and it was very eclectic like I am, and she carried cute t-shirts and tops, and I thought, you know, when I go shopping on vacation, I’ll buy a top somewhere, maybe not jeans or a skirt or a dress. I figured I could do that in Van Alstyne, so I started off with t-shirts and since have expanded into a few more clothing items.”
We love the name and are always interested in how people come up with naming their business. So how did you come up with the name of your shop?
Shannon told us, “Abby is our daughter and Lane is our son. When I was looking for a name for my own store, I was talking to someone about the kids and said Abby and Lane together and I thought it sounded pretty cool. So that’s been the store name since I left the antique mall and opened the store in McKinney.”
Who do you feel is your target audience?
Shannon: “Oh definitely ladies! Teenagers up through ladies in their 80’s. The older ladies love my jewelry AND the clothes. I try not to carry clothing that is specific to one age group, and these days, everybody wears everything. All ages love something about what I do.”
Do you have any employees or are you a one (wo)man show and do you foresee any growth in your business?
Shannon told us, “Back when the kids were in school, I used to hire local high school girls to work Saturdays. Now that we’re empty nesters, there’s really no reason not to be here. If I want to take a day off, I do. I have given quite a few teenage girls in this town their first job. As far as growth, not really. I’m never going to be a chain. I really think it’s good just the way it is. We do have a few cosmetic changes in the works for the outside of the business.”
Do you live in Van Alstyne and if so, how long have you been here?
Shannon said, “We moved here in 2003. Our kids were in first and second grade, and we actually moved here because of the schools. We looked at our property for over a year. We drove out here and looked and looked at the school, and decided to make the move. We moved over the Christmas Holiday. They loved the schools here. They both played sports, Abby cheered for many years here.”
Are you involved in other community activities?
Shannon: “Yes! We work with the youth at the First Baptist Church here in town. My husband is President of the Van Alstyne School Board and I’m a part Van Alstyne Chamber and the committee that puts together Fall der All activities.”
Tell us how you’d like to see Van Alstyne grow and change.
“I’d like to see VA grow really, just as it’s doing. Housing is expanding, but big box retail is growing just 5 miles away. I like the fact that families want to live here, and I do think it’s possible to keep that small town feel. I’m ok with the growth we’re having. I would like to see, and I know it’s happening, a huge revitalization of the downtown area. There are things that are happening now with the park coming. I like the direction it’s going. I think that while the numbers of rooftops may sound scary, it’s not like they’re all going to get built at one time, it’ll be phased in, so that’s ok. I’d like to see the college grow here. I want people to realize that your ‘small town’ can coexist in a bigger city. I grew up in Lake Highlands. I always thought it was a small town. We could see downtown Dallas from our backyard, but it always had that small town feel. So when I hear people around here just ‘small town, small town, small town’ well, it’s the community that makes that, it’s not how many houses are here, or how many buildings are here, or how many big box stores are here, it’s the community that makes it stay with that small town feel.”
What would you like people to know about your business?
“I think what’s different about me, is the artisan part of it. I make all my own jewelry. It’s a more personal business as far as we do a lot of our own stuff. I design a lot of t-shirt designs and have them printed up, so it’s more of the artisan aspect and the handmade aspect of it. I think it’s also the eclectic piece of my personality that comes out.
Next time you’re strolling the downtown streets of Van Alstyne, stick your head in Abby Lane Home Décor and Gifts. Have a look around – you’ll be amazed at all the different merchandise Shannon carries and you’re sure to walk away with some really cool purchases!
Abby Lane Home Décor and Gifts – Shannon Morgan
233 E. Marshall St., Van Alstyne, TX 75495