Former teacher opens new clothing, accessory shop

Published 10:00 am Friday, November 15, 2013

Merle Monahan
Contributing Writer



FRANKLIN—Debbie Crowder always had a flair for style. She loved jewelry and pretty clothes even when she was a young girl.

Now 56, with a 34-year teaching career and two grown sons behind her, she has opened her own clothing and accessory shop in Franklin. Called the “Cat’s Meow,” her shop is on Main Street, a few doors down from the downtown stoplight.

“It took me a few years to get here,” she said with a smile, “but it has already brought me a lot of joy.”

Born and raised in Franklin, Crowder graduated from Franklin High School and Longwood College with a degree in education in 1979. She started her teaching career at Hunterdale Elementary immediately after graduation and taught there for three and a half years.

Moving over to Capron Elementary, she taught mainly fifth grade for more than 30 years before retiring in 2012.

“I love teaching, and I loved going to school every morning,” she said.

“I had such good students, it was just a joy to be there.

“But there comes a time when you have to slow down. Besides, I had been working up to opening a shop for the last several years.

“I had been having home shows and attending craft shows to kind of get a feel for this business.

She added, “My sister, Teresa Bratzman, who lives in Texas, would send me jewelry to sell, and I knew there was a market for that.”

Crowder opened the shop in July 2012. She has three friends who help during the busy season, she said, and at times when she has to be out.

“For instance, I take buying trips to Virginia Beach, Atlanta and Pennsylvania. The girls keep the shop open for me. Also my mom, Betty Modlin, helps when she isn’t with me.”

She said she started out small, with just jewelry and handbags, then added the latest fashions in her clothing line and other accessories. She keeps the place open six days a week.

“Business has been good,” she said. “In fact, my husband, Dennis, who is my partner, and I have just opened another shop in Murfreesboro. It is smaller than this one, of course, but still profitable.”

Crowder stays pretty busy, she said, as much of her time is filled operating the shop, but she is active in her church. She and her family live in Newsoms and regularly attend Newsoms Baptist Church.

“I was the first woman superintendent of our Sunday School and I now serve as Sunday School secretary,” she added. “It is a way that I can help.”

NAME: Debbie Crowder

WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO THS AREA: I was born and raised here.

HOMETOWN: Franklin.

OCCUPATION: Retired teacher after 34 years and currently owner of the “Cat’s Meow.”

MARITAL STATUS: Married to Dennis Crowder.

CHILDREN, AGES AND SCHOOLS: We have two sons, Justin, 30, married to Alaina, and Ben, 27, married to Sara. Both sons are out on their own.

FAVORITE NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN: My husband and I like to eat out with family and friends.

FAVORITE RESTAURANT: We like all the local restaurants.

FAVORITE FOOD AND BEVERAGE: Steak and Diet Pepsi or unsweetened tea.

WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU: I’m a pretty good seamstress.

WHAT IS THE BEST THING ABOUT YOU: I love people, and I don’t know a stranger.

WHAT IS YOUR WORST HABIT: I need to work on organization.

PETS: Two cats, Scooter and Sally.

FAVORITE HOBBIES: I like to read, to sew and to travel, especially to Pennsylvania.  There’s a little shop down there, Ruthie’s, that I just love.

PET PEEVE: I get annoyed with people who think only of themselves, and ignore the people who need help.

FIRST JOB: Babysitting.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED: As one who loved life and people.

IF YOU HAD 10 MINUTES ON NATIONAL TELEVISION, WHT WOULD YOUR TOPIC BE AND WHAT WOULD YOU SAY: My topic would be the lack of faith, morals and values in our country today. Our country was founded on faith in God, and good morals and values go along with that. We need to get back to this, teach our children about respect and honor, and get them back in church. This will go a long way toward saving our country.