Story by Lindsey Coleman, Staff writer
Vintage Rose Emporium closed for business on Nov. 5, but Renee Howell reopened the doors as Plantation Place on Nov. 11.
On Oct. 31, Sarah Jones, previous owner of Vintage Rose, informed customers of the closing. On Nov. 3, Jones posted on her blog explaining her decision to sell the store to Howell.
Jones said when she was a child, she would sketch drawings of a storefront she wanted to own someday. However, after owning Vintage Rose for almost 16 years she didn’t feel a strong passion for the store anymore, and she said she was ready to move on.
“I just didn’t feel inspired in the same way that I have through the years, and I think sometimes you just have to go, ‘If I’m not feeling inspired, then what am I offering my customers?’” Jones said.
She said she doesn’t know what she’s going to do next, but she’s fine with that.
“Part of it is just getting really comfortable with the way the world works, and that it’s okay to not have a solid plan every now and then,” Jones said.
Jones says she has known Howell since Howell moved to Murray.
“I feel very good about it,” Jones said. “She has good taste. She is excited, and it’s a great thing for her, too.”
She said all of the Vintage Rose employees, including some additional Murray State students, showed continuity by agreeing to continue to work in the store with Howell.
“One of my favorite parts of the store through the years has been working with the young women at Murray State,” Jones said.
She said the business felt like a family to her, and they always took care of each other.
Jones said after her experience of feeling passionate about Vintage Rose for so many years, she would encourage students to find something they love.
“Don’t be afraid to listen to your soul, more or less,” Jones said. “Do what you want to do. Be brave. Step out. You don’t have to do what everybody expects of you.”
Howell is from Southern Georgia, and she said Plantation Place was a name that could reflect her southern roots and portray her heritage of a family in the cotton gin business.
Howell said she started out making smock dresses, which later turned into a love of embroidery.
“My passion is the embroidery, and I wanted to do more of it,” Howell said.
She said she has been embroidering in the studio next to her house for six years, and as her embroidery business grew, she knew it was time for a change.
Howell said she thought Vintage Rose would be a great place to relocate, so she approached Jones. Within a week, Howell bought the store.
“I have had lots of friends who have helped me this week as we’re getting ready, and the employees have been here,” Howell said. “It’s been a huge transformation this week.”
Howell said owning a storefront has not necessarily been a dream of hers, but it was something in the back of her mind.
While they are in the process of assessing what the community wants, Howell said they really want to showcase a bridal registry and embroidery services.
For embroidery needs, Howell said customers can bring in their own items, or she has options in the store to buy or to order.
Howell said embroidery is a great addition to what was already offered at Vintage Rose.
“Because we’re so close to the university, we want to have things for the college students to come in and buy,” she said.
Howell said in December, customers should expect Plantation Place to be open on Sundays and have extended hours for the holiday season.
Gina Claiborne, 17 year employee of the store, also worked with Mary Anne Medlock, who owned Vintage Rose before Jones. Claiborne said she has enjoyed watching both of the previous owners encourage their successors.
Claiborne said she had a great relationship with Jones, and she loves the Southern direction Howell has for the store.
“Sarah Jones has been 100 percent supportive of this,” Claiborne said. “I love that they all have their own visions, but they’re all been supportive of one another.”