Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ode to a Great Retailer

We have a lot of small businesses open – and sometimes close – in Watkinsville. One of the most innovative to come to town in recent years has been Circa Antiques, located downtown.

Delores Schofill, the owner of Circa, brought a high level of energy and creativity to the downtown retail scene. Her first shop was rented at the end of the block between the courthouse and Sunshine Village. She later bought a standard small brick storefront on the same block, tore out the sheetrock walls and drop ceiling and unveiled a wonderful historic structure that was different than most others in town. She even removed the mansard roof outside, revealing a wonderful brick façade with the name “McRee 1918” etched in (see picture).

Her goods were eclectic – rare books, original local art, agricultural antiques, other farm implements, containers, furniture, benches. She kept art, sculptures, and planters along the sidewalk in front of her story, making for a changing and interest-building scene. She participated religiously in Watkinsville’s various festivals and events, kept late hours that could accommodate those of us who work late or needed a last minute gift, and knew her customers by name. All this built wonderful community awareness and loyalty.

Her approach inspired others, including John Byram, to see the great potential in their old buildings and to take them back to their bones, often yielding higher rents and property values for owners. Today, several of our historic buildings downtown are closer to their original look than they have been for many years.

Last weekend marked the end of an era as Delores retired and closed Circa. She will still keep some stuff at another store in town, but Delores, I wanted to take a minute and say thanks for what you have done for our community and for the lessons you have passed along to other retailers in Watkinsville (and elsewhere) about running a classy, successful business. The Circa website says "we search for the unique." Well, we do the same in Watkinsville -- and Delores, you're one of a kind! Good luck!


Oconee Democrat said...

Well written Brian

Ashley said...

Circa was a great little shop - you never knew what treasures were to be found. Plus, the obvious charm it added to the Watkinsville streetscape will be missed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Brian. I know Delores appreciates your comments and the support she gained over the years from her friends / customers in Watkinsville. Down the road, after some rest and family catch up time, a new project awaits ! John Schofill