By Candace Sipos -- email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- It has been a big year for one little store stationed on the downtown mall.
Pewter Pan by MJ Interiors, Inc., headquartered on 33 S. Loudoun St., has undergone one major change this month and there are a few left to come. Co-owner Janie Nichols decided to shut down one of the two sister stores, MJ Interiors Floors, Blinds and Design at 2021 S. Loudoun St., right before Christmas.
Originally, the shop was downtown for 18 years, Nichols said.
"Then I moved it across town to see if it would work," she said. "... I think it was just a wrong move."
After the economy took a nosedive starting in 2007, she noticed a trend among her customers.
"I was hoping with the way the market changed that homeowners would be more wanting to spruce up their house," she said. "... They did, but they'd come across town and rip the showroom apart looking at stuff but they'd still want the big box store."
Customers all too often searched out the lowest price available, she said. She also used to have a shop in Apple Blossom Mall, but being spread around the city wasn't "productive," she said.
"It was just a lot of work for one person to try to handle," she said. "Now, we can get under one roof."
Despite her long history with the company, Nichols is focused on the future.
By Feb. 1, she plans to have the Pewter Pan store on the pedestrian mall moved to its new location at 48 S. Loudoun St., where Fabulous Finds was located until it closed about a month ago.
The space is about four times larger than Pewter Pan's current location, Nichols said.
"It's a great little spot here, but we outgrew it," she said, noting that a couple of other interested parties have already been looking into renting the current space when her business moves out.
The new store, once opened, will be called Once Upon a Find, and MJ Interiors, Inc. may change names to the Winchester Design Group, she said. In fact, she already had banners made to change the name of the sister shop in the George Washington Hotel, but she heard about Fabulous Finds closing and decided to repurpose them.
"It kind of all came at once," she said.
Both Nichols and Lisa Lewis, co-owner and manager of the new shop, were quick to bring up the local feel for the new location.
In addition to the increase in sheer volume of merchandise, the shop will feature local valley finds, such as handcrafted jewelry, bags and alpaca scarves.
The contracted design work Nichols has been known for will continue, but it will become more exclusive and appointment-based.
"It's a total restructuring is what's happening," Lewis said, noting that operating a small business has been a struggle recently, but the women are not giving up. Nichols "is always going to be in the design field. That's in her blood," Lewis said.