Life has a way of taking turns that, when seen in hindsight, make you realize you are right where you are supposed to be. No one knows this better than Chris Hambrick, owner of Penny Lane Boutique, a home accessories and gift shop in Clemmons, NC. When life gave her lemons after a corporate lay-off, Chris took a leap of faith and made some great ‘lemonade’ with the opening of her shop. “As a VP of Business Development in a home health care company, I was in a position where I loved what I did and the people I worked with, putting in long hours, many away from home traveling,” said Chris. “I was relocated to the Clemmons area over five years ago from Johnson City, TN, with my job. When I was part of my company’s downsizing, I took what had been a weekend hobby of painting and re-purposing furniture and added unique gift items and vintage finds, opening my store, Penny Lane Boutique. I am often asked if my business is something I always wanted to do and I say, ‘no.’ But as I look back at the experiences that I had in my corporate job, I can truly see how I was being prepared for what I do now, and I am excited every day to come to work.” And it seems that after only 10 months, Chris’ excitement has been felt by the community with Penny Lane becoming a destination shopping ‘must-see.’
‘People Need to Know that You Genuinely Care’
Chris Hambrick’s parents both have a strong worth ethic that Chris definitely inherited. She was born and raised in southwest Virginia by her mother, and as she says, “I learned early on that it’s not about how smart you are, but how hard you want to work. As an only child, I always felt like I was an ‘old soul’ having a heart for the older generation, leading me to my job in home health care. I believe my previous experience in my career has played a huge part in my personal growth.” Over the years, Chris has sacrificed a lot of time and activities with her daughter and husband, but her family truly considers her shop a ‘family’ business. “None of this could’ve been possible without the support and encouragement of my husband, Keith, and my daughter, Lane,” she comments. “Keith sees the potential in me and encourages me to take risks; I couldn’t have launched this shop without him. For us as a family, the lines between work and home can get blurry. My husband goes to auctions on the weekends looking for great pieces that we can ‘up cycle’ and give a new look to, and Lane is often in the store chatting with customers. As a family, we truly do what needs to be done, whether that is at home or here at Penny Lane.” Another source of strength for Chris is her ‘right hand woman’ and friend, Paige Moerman. “Paige and I became friends after our family moved to Clemmons,” said Chris. “From the beginning, she and I have shared a love of design but, more importantly, a love of people. When I first started considering the idea of Penny Lane, Paige was a cheerleader, offering any help that I needed to get the store ready. I tend to be a ‘big picture’ person and Paige is detailed, with a vision and ability to pair colors that is a great asset to the store. We want our customers to know that we genuinely care about them and that they should feel better after they leave Penny Lane than when they arrived. Customer service is centered on the interactions you have, and Paige and I place our customers and their needs above all else, being able to answer any questions they may have and offering ideas.”
Chris learned early on that successful people surround themselves with successful people. “As a business owner, you have to be confident enough in yourself to know when you need to ask questions of others,” she states. “I always believed a part of the strength of a person shows through in those you rely on and draw from. Paige and I complement each other in our styles and what we bring to Penny Lane.”
Creating New from Old
Beyond knowing how to treat her customers, Chris knows her craft and what is trending. Although she is very excited about how the community has embraced Penny Lane as a business, she knows that in order to continue to stay current, she has to offer her customers something new, or restated, something old that has been re-purposed. “Penny Lane is an eclectic shop with painted furniture, gift items and lots of great vintage finds. Our furniture pieces are all one of a kind, which we have re-purposed, giving a new look to an older item. Using ‘chalk paint’ by CeCe Caldwell, the variety of colors and finishes is almost unlimited. We also do custom pieces that people bring in, helping them to pick out what best suits their tastes. For those who like to do-it-yourself, we offer classes where you can bring in a piece and we teach you how to get the look you want. Our classes are a great way for friends to get together, share some laughs, enjoy some wine and lunch, and leave with a new talent and addition to their home,” notes Chris. In addition to the great recycled furniture finds, Penny Lane’s gift items are unique as well.
“Staying current with life and trends is easy when you pay attention,” Chris says. “My daughter and her friends keep me up on what is ‘hot’ with kids and I always have a magazine in hand or am on the internet learning about what is the next new thing. Many of our items are from small businesses like the Rewined candles which are soy-based candles that are hand poured in old recycled wine bottles, or the jewelry by Goshen Sparkling Jewelry, featuring beautiful Swarovski crystals. We also have monogrammed and personalized items, which are always great gift ideas, and jewelry by Language Arts and other hand crafted items like belt buckles and bracelets by Majesty’s. One of our hot lines right now is Crow watches.” Another unique aspect of the shop is that many of the home accessories at Penny Lane, like wall sconces, are hand-crafted by Chris, Paige or other local artists.
As Chris looks toward her first holiday shopping season, she is excited about each customer that will come in, looking for that perfect gift. “The community ties that we have as a business and as a family here in Clemmons are a huge part of our life and the success of Penny Lane. The word of mouth that travels about your shop and the experiences that folks have when they visit, dictate whether they tell a friend. I am a big believer in networking with other ‘like’ shops and extending help to one another, which in turn helps all of us serve our community better. I have no doubt that I am right where God meant for me to be. It truly is surreal how everything fell into place,” says Chris.
Penny Lane is located at 3560 Clemmons Rd., Suite C, Clemmons, NC. Hours of operation: Tuesday-Friday 10am-6 pm and Saturday 10am-5pm. For more information, call 336-769-8551 or visit pennylaneboutique.net.