For several years, I commuted back and forth on Highway 67 South to Bryan County serving as a school psychologist in the Bryan County school system. Each day, I would pass Hodges Antiques, occasionally stopping in.
I watched the business grow from the outside, becoming a very warm and inviting place to stop. What many of you may not know is this cornerstone of our local antique market also has been growing on the inside, evolving into four distinct businesses under one roof/umbrella: Hodges Antiques, Wynter House Design, RB's Restoration and RB's Moving Company.
Founder Vickie Winters said the company has come a long way since its inception in 1993.
"Our original location was on the corner of Burkhalter Road and Highway 67, fondly referred to as Joe Hodges Hill," she said. "We moved several miles out towards the interstate in 1998. Some folks thought we were crazy, but 90 percent of our business was from out-of-town, so it made it more convenient for them and gave us room to grow."
The business now employs six family members - Winters, her husband Jim Winters, who founded the business with her, her sister Jerrie Blackburn, nephews Randy Blackburn and Bob McNeely and her mother Shirley Martin.
"In addition to buying antiques and restoring them, we custom design and build furniture, window treatments, do custom upholstery, and provide full interior decorating services," she said. "Tastes have changed over the years, becoming much more simplified, but elegant. People are looking for comfort within a beautiful piece of furniture."
Winters said everyone remains busy during the day focusing on customer service and the "business at hand".
"We all have such a passion for what we are doing, and we truly love it and feel blessed to be able to come to work every day," she said. "To tend to our customers and give them what they need and are asking for doesn't leave a lot of down time for any of us. We are truly grateful for that."
Excuse my play on words, but when I asked Winters what the biggest change in the antique/furniture business has been over the last 20 years, she said simply, technology.
"It is so easy to send someone a cell phone picture now of a piece or an idea, and literally make a sale that way," she said. "When you see a piece of furniture that you know will work for someone, shoot and send. It is amazing, and makes the job that much more gratifying. We are a small family business, but we have a lot of fun working together. What more could we ask for?"
And that is what it is being an entrepreneur is all about.
So, until next Tuesday, I bid you au revoir.
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