Windsor store gets crafty

Published 8:55 am Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WINDSOR—Bob Parsons, who 36 years ago opened the Windsor Pharmacy, has added yet another department to the business — a 1,500-square-foot arts and craft shop.

“We’ve always carried some craft supplies,” Parsons said, “but we’ve had so many requests during the past year for various craft items that we didn’t carry, it just seemed the right thing to do.”

The Windsor pharmacist said interest in these supplies intensified when the Suffolk Wal-Mart store closed its craft section last year. Although the Wal-Mart in Franklin still carries crafts, “people in this area just didn’t have any place close to go,” Parsons said.

Craft department manager Cathy Boals said she can already see a big increase in sales.

“We carry basic supplies, from artificial flowers, vine wreaths and baskets, to ribbon, wrapping paper and anything in the sewing and knitting line. We’ve always had DMC floss, which is used for cross-stitch, but lately I’ve had to order much more.”

Boals said she has customers from as far away as North Carolina, in both the Boykins and Suffolk directions. One lady comes all the way from North Carolina just to get yarn.

“Then another lady from North Carolina calls me once a month to order yarn for her. In about a week, she sends her husband down to get it. She says she can’t get the shade she wants anyplace else.”

Her biggest increase in ordering any one item has been fabric, however.

“Each time I order, I have to get more. People use it to make quilts.

“In fact, the place is beginning to fill up — I just wish I had more space,” she added with a grin.

As it turns out, fabric was the one item at the Suffolk Wal-Mart that was making money, said store Manager Sam Wiggs.

“The department as a whole was not cost-effective, though,” Wiggs said, “so we discontinued it when we remodeled the store in November.”

Sales associate Ruby Moss, at the Franklin store, said there was a rumor that crafts would be discontinued there within a couple years, or when the store was to be remodeled.

She noted that this was just a rumor, however. Manager Kevin Hudgins was on vacation and not available for comment.

Parsons, who said his business is a family business, with his wife, Beverly, as office manager and son Neil as store manager, had been thinking about adding more crafts for some time. He said he felt this was the right time and feels good about the venture.

“We have a knowledgeable manager who can advise the customers on just about anything they need to know and is more than willing to accommodate them in any way possible,” he said. “In fact, Cathy has worked for us for 20 years and has quite a bit of experience in crafts.”

Boals does, indeed, know what she’s doing. When she’s not working, she’s often teaching a quilting class or taking classes in some other craft for the benefit of her customers.

“Customers will come in for advice on crocheting or knitting, and I explain what they should do,” she said.

She smiled. “I once had one of the students from the Presbyterian School in Zuni stop in while I was teaching a lady how to crochet,” Boals recalled. “He said he wanted to learn and you know what? I taught him right there.

“He later came in to show me his work, and he had done a good job.”

“I’m interested in anything crafty,” she went on, “and I don’t mind teaching my customers what I know.

“For instance, I’ll teach them how to make a wreath, or tie a ribbon into a bow, things like that, as well as how to do needlework.”

She said she’ll also special order items that she may not carry or has just run out of.

“We want to please our customers,” she added. “They’re good to us, and we try to be good to them.”

Store hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., six days a week.

The pharmacy is closed on Sundays.