This article appears in the April issue of 400 Life.
A husband-and-wife pair has created a space to help local artists and those interested in their work find each other.
The Gibson Co., moved to The Collection at Forsyth in summer 2018 and offers — in their own words — gifts, home products and sundries, the last of which Clarissa Gibson, who owns the business with her husband, Mark, said sent some shoppers to a dictionary.
“We love the word sundries, because it’s kind of like an oddity, like a curiosity, things that are unique and you can’t find anywhere else,” Gibson said. “We give you a little bit of home décor, a little bit of gifting, then the sundries or curiosity.”
Before their location at The Collection, the couple first opened a smaller store on Browns Bridge Road, though it wasn’t their original choice.
Gibson said there was another planned location for the first store but it fell through. Then, she found a place that she said “fell out of the sky into my view.”
“It was the sweetest little store, and we built a clientele there,” she said. “I was doing a lot of refinished furniture. It turned out to not be my biggest seller actually. The gifts and home décor actually ended up being my biggest seller, so we took that, and we kind of reached the point where it was like, ‘Do we stay or do we go?’ We decided to make it bigger and, hopefully, better.”
At The Gibson Co.’s current location, shoppers can find items from T-shirts to jewelry to more obscure items, such as lights made out of antique cameras, all made by artists in the area.
“We love using local artists, so we’re constantly pulling new folks in here, brilliant minds that bring us something different than what we’re going to find at a big-box chain online store,” Gibson said. “We kind of felt like we could fill a store up with amazing people and art.”
Gibson said items made by the local vendors are the store’s most popular items and best sellers, which has made an impact on some artists’ lives.
“In the beginning, Mark and I knew we had a talented bunch of friends, and we were like, ‘It’s a shame that they don’t have anywhere to put this because the world should know about this.’ That was part of our initial goal here, was to keep our friends’ small businesses busy,” she said. “It’s been a passion of ours to see some of those people paying their mortgage or some bills because they’re in our shop, and it’s selling because they can’t get it next door.”
Along with the hand-crafted items, the store also has a space in the back of the store for classes and instruction such as parent-child paint classes, cookie decorating and teaching how to make wreaths.
“People love them because it’s a time where they can just leave the house and be with their buddy. I had a lady at the spring wreath class, and she had her headphones in the entire time, and she decorated the wreath for an hour-and-a-half and had the time of her life,” Gibson said.
For Gibson, the classes are a chance for those who don’t often embrace their creative side to try something new.
“Mark and I feel strongly about being able to let your creativity go, because when you are an artist and you have something special that God gave you, you have to release that or else it causes other issues somewhere else, we think. We’ve experienced it ourselves, so we love being able to give that to people. It makes us proud.”
Between finding works they might not see in other places and getting to try their own hand at art, Gibson said she has been blown away by the support of customers.
“It’s been unbelievable,” Gibson said. “I think that people crave inspiration. Especially where we’re at in our world right now, people are craving to be inspired. We try to bring them an experience that they can’t get anywhere else, so when you get that mixed with new people and they buy into the experience, it’s been a game changer, and we try to live up to that. We try to be constantly bringing in new things so we can bring in new people and our old people don’t get bored either.”
And for Gibson, happy artists and happy customers are really what it’s all about.
“We constantly feel the pull of running a business and keeping up with those numbers and all that, but also, we have to always remind ourselves why we started, and we started it for the people,” she said. “The people that come who want to have an experience. The people that are behind the scenes are the reason why we do this.”