It all started with a passion for the holiday season.
Janis Gaudette has always been enthralled with Christmas—the cold weather, the smell of pine needles and the steaming hot cocoas—but what she really loves is the explosion of festive decorations.
She loved it so much, in fact, that she started participating in Christmas markets around the southeast, and selling her overflow merchandise in a small booth at an Opry Mills store.
Eventually, it was what led Janis and husband Dan to open The Shoppes on Main in downtown Franklin nearly three years ago—a bevy of handpicked items from eight different merchants.
“Opening a store is something we’d always said we should have done, and Dan especially had wanted to do it,” Janis said. “We were driving down Main Street one day and saw this space open. We just grabbed the opportunity.”
Though neither has a retail background—Dan is a retired Nissan executive—the pair decided they would learn as they go. They didn’t know much at the beginning, but they did know this: they wanted a host of sellers that could offer a unique blend of merchandise.
“We flew by the seat of our pants and learned from our mistakes,” Janis said. “The goal was to have a core group, like a co-op, and to focus on gifts. We’re all about gifts and little ‘happies.’”
The Shoppes on Main started out with more than 20 merchants, now whittled down to eight—all of whom have been with the store since day one. Several of the others have gone on to open their own businesses.
And on Oct. 1, the day of their three-year anniversary, they’ll be adding a ninth merchant: one who sells custom monogramming, hand-embroidered clothes and beautiful baby accessories.
“We are a breeding ground for small business owners who are not ready yet to take that first step of opening their own store,” she said. “All of our sellers have their own styles and themes, and each picks his or her own merchandise. We know that our customers have different tastes, so we try to provide something for everyone!”
As for Janis—who has merchandise in about a third of the store—she’s continued to focus on holiday seasonal décor. The rest of The Shoppes on Main is chock full of items that run the gamut: original local art, fashion accessories, lighting, jewelry, candles, collegiate items and much more.
For the musician, there are jewelry pieces handmade from guitar strings; for the faith community, plenty of religious home décor and accessory items; for the tourist, Franklin-themed posters, postcards and t-shirts; and for the homemaker, there is no shortage of hostess, baby, home, spa and garden gifts.
From the 1970s music playing to the inspirational messages plastered on the walls at the front of the store, Janis said she hopes to make it a happy space each and every day.
“I want people to laugh in here. I love when the customers tap their toes and sing along to the music,” she said. “Or when they laugh at our wall of funny birthday cards.
“We had a couple come in the store the other day. After they left, the husband walked back in and told us that his wife had had a bad day, and all she wanted to do was come into our store to make her happy! That’s what we want.”
Janis says a large part of the atmosphere in The Shoppes on Main derives from the merchants’ attitudes and its central location—she says it’s not rare to have a shopper who lives thousands of miles from Main Street. The store even keeps a map marked with places from where people have visited, including countries from nearly every continent.
“We love being in Downtown Franklin. We love meeting people from all over the world and seeing our local, regular customers. There’s always something fun to do here, and we can’t imagine being anywhere else.”
For more information on The Shoppes on Main, please visit their website at www.theshoppesonmain.net.
This is part of a series on merchants in Downtown Franklin that runs in the Williamson Herald each Thursday.