ROCKINGHAM — Willow Tree Antiques and Gifts had a soft opening on Sept. 12, and owner Jill DeBerry said business has been good so far.
“I think downtown Rockingham needs new businesses to bring things to the area,” DeBerry said, speaking of her location beside Henry’s Uptown Cafe, just across South Hancock Street from the Richmond County Administrative Building.
DeBerry, a Waxaw native, is married to Tommy DeBerry of Richmond County who helps out around the store often. Between the two of them, they hope to bring a new and different shopping experience to downtown Rockingham.
DeBerry said the prior owner had a similar business in mind, but illness struck her shortly after she opened and kept her from being able to tend the shop. Now, a few years later, it is just the kind of place DeBerry had in mind for her store — but has been completely emptied of its old contents, remodeled and stocked with gifts and antiques “of a higher caliber.”
“I would say probably the earliest piece we have would be mid-to-late 1800s,” she said. “I knew for a long time this was something I wanted to do and I was glad we were able to buy this building since it’s in a good location in the heart of downtown, but it would have happened somewhere else if not right here.”
DeBerry lists antiques before gifts in the store’s name, but that’s likely owing to alphabetical order because the place is filled with surprising gift items — some elaborately displayed and others demurely draped over furniture or hanging along the walls.
On tables, there are place settings made of local pottery, although DeBerry said she has yet to choose a potter to make regular purchases from.
“I’m still looking for pottery to keep in stock,” she said. “What I have here now is some that I collected before. But the gift items we have change almost daily. We’re always getting new things in. We have a variety of ladies’ scarves and accessories.
“There are gifts here for any occasion you can imagine. We have something for everyone. There are baby gifts, gifts for weddings and birthdays. And of course we have the Willow Tree collectibles. And we have a special line of jewelry designed.”
DeBerry has always had an eye for antiques and anything unusual, anything special.
“I’ve been buying antiques probably for about 20 years, mostly within North Carolina,” DeBerry said. “We try to have a mix so that we have a variety of antiques for anyone who would come in even though we do specialize in primitives.”
Primitive antiques, DeBerry said, are the more simple, earlier pieces, often called “farmhouse style.”
“We have really tried to be selective about the items we put in the store as far as antiques and gift items that you wouldn’t find in a lot of places,” she said. “The most unusual new item this week would be one of the vintage hardware necklaces for a lady. We also have a lot of fine men’s leather wallets, messenger bags, leather desk pads and other accessories that you won’t find anywhere else nearby.”
DeBerry also sells jewelry made from repurposed spoons and vintage hardware by Stacy Morgan, who fashions her handmade designer jewelry under the brand “re” in the Raleigh suburb of Clayton.
“I want everybody to know that we’re very excited about the new store and we just want to add something new to the area,” DeBerry said.
To contact DeBerry, call the store at 910-730-1776 or visit its website at www.willowtreeantiquesandgifts.com and look it up on Facebook.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @melonieflomer.