Sunday, July 14, 2024

Take a trip down Willow Lane

Retired teachers ‘branch’ out in joint business endeavor

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Granbury residents Jan Bergeman and Tracy Davis may be former teachers, but the pair earned a big “F” in the subject of one of life’s greatest achievements — retiring.

Not long after Bergeman and Davis retired as educators in the Granbury Independent School District, the duo decided they weren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.

“We both went into furniture upcycling after we retired,” Bergeman said. “Or as I like to call it, ‘we didn’t retire well.’”

After the longtime friends started to upcycle furniture, they eventually purchased a booth at Vintage Roads Antique Mall, where one day, a stranger made a comment about the pair going into business together.

As luck would have it, Christine McMillan, the owner of the since-closed boutique, Here’s To You, put her building up for sale, which set up the perfect opportunity for Bergeman and Davis.

In November 2021, the retired teachers purchased the building formerly known as Here’s To You, located at 440 E. Pearl St., and rebranded the store to Willow Lane.

"We really didn't know what we wanted to name it,” Bergeman said. “The first thing we thought of was the Feathered Nest, and it's good we didn't name it that in hindsight, because The Nest opened on the square at almost exactly the same time, so that would have been very confusing.”

Each time Bergeman and Davis would get together, they would think of different names of items, plants, and trees they both liked until Willow Lane came into the mix — a name that just felt right to the duo.

A mural was then painted on the side of the building by artist Aubrey Cabrera that features a tall willow tree with the words “love, Granbury,” painted underneath the leaves. Customers can also take a picture under the willow tree and use the hashtag #Granburylove to post on Instagram.

“It's got a hashtag that actually will take you to Visit Granbury, too, so if you have a picture done with that not only will you go to our Instagram page, but you'll also go to Visit Granbury's Instagram page if you upload your pictures,” Bergeman said.

The mural now serves as an extra draw to Willow Lane and aligns with Bergeman’s and Davis’ vision of their boutique perfectly.

According to the website, Willow Lane is described as a home furnishing store with items to make “your home feel like a home.” New, vintage, antique, and unique items are also curated for a “wonderful blend of options.”

"There's a lot of confusion,” Bergeman said. “Maybe because Cool Junk was over here, but (many people think) we're a resale shop and we're not. Tracy and I upcycle furniture, but even that is very few and far between. Besides that, it's all new products.”

An aspect that sets Willow Lane apart from other boutiques is its focus on products that are locally made.

"We buy from local artisans who we try to support,” Bergeman said. “We try our very best to find locals. We try to keep the money in Hood County and if not Hood County, then Texas the best we can.”

Ranging in products of handmade soap, candles, clothing, jewelry, artwork, flowers, glasses, home décor, and kitchenware, Willow Lane is sure to have something for everyone — even men.

“I would say the variety of things we have (makes us unique),” Bergeman said. “Anywhere from purses and candles to kitchen goods and men's gifts."

Bergeman said her most popular items are the laundry detergent and candles from the Tyler Candle Company, candles from Swan Creek Candle Company, and jewelry from Rain Jewelry.

"We kind of get a variety of people in here because we have a variety of different things,” she said.

Glenda Ramsey from Décor & More along with Cindy Dennis, Granbury’s own “Pickle Lady,” are also two local artisans whose products are available at Willow Lane.

“That's what we look for when we're looking for companies to buy things from is to buy from smaller companies and those with handmade products,” Bergeman said.

She also explained how she likes to keep the store “fresh” and new, which is why when she does purchase products from a local business, she purchases several different items as opposed to a big batch of one product.

“We like to have just a couple items here and there, and then when we sell out of it, we sell out of it, so chances are you're going to find something in here you wouldn't find somewhere else — and if you do find it here, you may never find it ever again,” she said, chuckling.

Bergeman said since opening Willow Lane almost two years ago, the response has been overwhelmingly positive from customers, who have commented about the sweet-smelling fragrance the store has upon walking in, and how the boutique is “adorable.”

"You have to come see what's here, because it's cuter than you would even imagine,” Bergeman added.

Willow Lane is also set to have its holiday open house on Nov. 11, from 1-5 p.m.

The hours of operation for Willow Lane are from 12-5 p.m. on Mondays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and it is closed on Sundays.

For more information about Willow Lane, visit willowlanegranbury.com online or call 817-964-3207.