Popular shop closing after 25 years in business
For the past 25 years, The Cottage has provided local women a place to find almost anything they would need to decorate their home, to look stylish and fashionable, to have the latest jewelry or to find the perfect gift for a birthday, wedding shower or just because, but on Feb. 16, the long-time business will be closing its doors.
Judy Jackson, who owns the popular shop that is located in the Franklin Shopping Center, said that even though her business has made it through the economic downturn, she felt it was just time to start a different chapter of her life.
“Owning this store has been such a special part of my life,” she said, “but I just believe it’s time for me to move on to different things.
“I have places I want to go and things I want to see, and there’s no better time than the present to do that, so after about a year of consideration, I finally made the decision to close up the store.”
Jackson said she explored several options for selling the business to a different person, but when those attempts didn’t pan out, she said the best decision was just to close the doors.
“It was a bittersweet decision for me,” she said.
“On the one hand, I’m excited about the time I’ll have for other things, but I’m also sad to let go of this place that has been such a large part of my daily life for the past 25 years.
“It definitely wasn’t a decision that I came to easily, but I do believe it is the best decision at this time.”
Jackson said that looking back over her journey, The Cottage has more than lived up to the expectations she had when she first went into business in 1988.
“At the time, all of my children were grown and out of the house, and I was looking for something to fill my time that I would really enjoy doing,” Jackson said.
“I love decorating and shopping and I decided opening a store that sold home décor and stylish clothes, shoes, purses and gifts would really be something I would enjoy doing, and I wasn’t wrong – I’ve enjoyed owning this business ever since it opened.”
While she loved finding the newest and most fashionable items and bringing them back to Franklin County for the local ladies to enjoy, Jackson said her favorite part of her business truly was the customers she came to know and love over the years.
“I know many people who are in business will say the customers are the best part, but that really is the best part for me,” she said. “It isn’t something I just say to sound good, it’s the absolute truth.
“My customers have really become more like close friends and family. Many of them have been loyal customers who would frequent the store week in and week out.
“It’s people like that who really made the business an enjoyable experience for me.”
One frequent customer who became a true part of The Cottage family is Russellville resident and longtime educator Judy Pounders, who has worked as a part-time employee at The Cottage for 20 years.
“I remember when Judy first opened the store in the building right next door to where it is now,” Pounders said. “It was called The Country Cottage then, and I was in there all the time.
“At one point, I told Judy that if she ever needed any extra help wrapping gifts, I would be glad to do that. She took me up on the offer but when I came in to wrap gifts, I ended up selling things.
“The Cottage has been such a great place for me to get re-acquainted with students, parents and friends from the days when I was an educator and to meet new people from surrounding towns that I never would have met otherwise.
“I’ve also gained such good friends in the ladies I work with there.”
Pounders said Jackson, as well as her husband, Jimmy Jackson, who owns Royal Furniture in Russellville, have kept the community first when running their businesses and she learned a lot from watching them give back to others.
“I know personally that the Jacksons have helped furnish churches, teachers lounges, school lobbies and other places in the area,” she said.
“The Cottage has been a real asset to this town over the years and met a lot of needs this town has had, and I’m glad that I got to be a small part of that.”
Kim Pickett has worked at The Cottage for the past 14 years and she agreed with Pounders that it has been a great experience.
“Judy has never felt like a boss in all the years I’ve worked here,” Pickett said. “She has always been great to work for because she loves what she does.
“I’ve really enjoyed working here and getting to know all the wonderful customers that we have, and I will miss seeing all of them on a regular basis once the store closes.”
Jackson said the ladies she has working at the store have been a great asset to her over the years as well.
“I don’t think I could have made it all these years without Judy and Kim,” Jackson said. “They have been such a tremendous help and I am so thankful for all the help they have given me over the years.”
Jackson said they are still in the process of wrapping things up until the store officially closes Feb. 16.
“Everything is currently marked 25 to 50 percent off,” Jackson said.
“We hope everyone will stop in and see us these last few weeks that we are open.”