Janice Swartz remembers a time when downtown Franklin consisted of car dealerships and hardware stores. She remembers knowing every person that crossed the sidewalk, a time when it only cost 10 cents to see a show at the Franklin Theatre.
“I used to ride my bicycle to town to see a matinée show with my friends,” she said. “You couldn’t pass by someone on Main Street and not know their name! Everyone knew everyone’s stories and family drama.”
Today, people may say it’s still that way. But Swartz has seen the 16-block National Register district grow, and from the viewpoints of both a young woman and a businesswoman.
The owner of The Cellar on Main opened up shop 14 years ago in downtown Franklin, and has continued to watch as the area metamorphosed into a highly visible destination.
“As much as Franklin has grown, it hasn’t lost its charm,” she said. “In many ways it has remained the same, and it is so special to be able to watch this city blossom. I have remained friends with a lot of the people I went to elementary school with. We meet about once a month for dinner! The fact that we all stayed in the area speaks volumes about the type of place that Franklin is.”
After 31 years, Swartz retired in 1998 from teaching fifth graders in the local public school system. Her mother and father were in the grocery business, and she’d always dreamed of owning her own shop on Main Street. When she happened to see an open space in the 300 block all those years ago, she saw the opportunity as a sign to begin a new career path.
“Retail comes naturally to me,” she said. “My parents owned a store, so being a merchant is in my blood. I also love being around people, and this job allows me to do that.”
Since Swartz opened the Cellar on Main—which happened to be the first day of the Main Street Festival in 1999—her selection has evolved. Today, the women’s boutique carries a wide variety of brands of clothing, handbags, shoes, and jewelry, and recently started carrying baby clothes.
“I think we are the perfect gift shop for women and young mothers,” she said. “Our motto is ‘we just do cute!’”
The shop recently relocated a few doors down to 344 Main Street, after their previous space was sold to a new owner. Since they’ve opened the new location, they’ve added some new brands, including Brighton and Vera Bradley.
Swartz said that even with the chaos of changing locations, she still finds time to enjoy her favorite part of her job: meeting new faces and hearing the tales from customers from all over the world.
“We have locals and tourists alike that visit the shop, so it’s really neat to be able to learn their backgrounds and to hear their unique stories,” she said. “It just goes to show how special this town is.”
The Cellar On Main is open seven days a week, Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. , and on Sundays 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/cellaronmain
This is part of a series on merchants in downtown Franklin that runs in the Williamson Herald each week.