Littles Shoppes finds temporary home

Published 1:01 am Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Jayne Meisell, with the new Washington Emporium on Market Street, pauses during her description of wares for sale in the shop Tuesday. The store is a partial, temporary replacement for the Little Shoppes of Washington, which sustained damage during Hurricane Irene. (WDN Photo/Jonathan Clayborne)

Hurricane Irene shut down a shop housing 16 vendors on Main Street, rolling the roof off Little Shoppes of Washington on Aug. 27.

Following the hurricane, the rain-drenched building was condemned by the City of Washington until necessary repairs could be made.

Charisma Boutique lost its stock, and items were damaged in a booth set up by the co-owners of I Can’t Believe It’s a Book Store.

For a while, it looked as if Little Shoppes would fade from the downtown scene, another victim of Irene.

Then, something dynamic happened.

Jayne Meisell and Rebecca Clark, formerly of Little Shoppes, found a temporary location for nine of the former Little Shoppes sellers, just in time for the holidays.

“We decided what we wanted to do was get something (temporary) going until we could get back in,” said Meisell.

Known as the Washington Emporium, the shop opened Sept. 19 at 132 S. Market St., the former location of South Market Antiques, which will reopen two doors down in October, Meisell related.

The emporium features everything from handbags to Halloween decorations and pieces for the pampered pooch.

Store hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.

“Garry Keech, who owns the (Market Street) building, has been fabulous in accommodating us and letting us move in temporarily,” she said.

Keech said he was glad to help.

“I told Jayne that she could certainly go in there for any time she needed the space,” he said, adding, “I’m happy they’re there.”

The Little Shoppes vendors might be able to return to their Main Street spot in November, “if all goes well,” Meisell said.

Some of the Little Shoppes entrepreneurs had the double worry of cleaning up their homes because of flooding, and their stock because of the deluge from above, she said.

“A lot of us had a big old mess at our homes that we had to clean up and get that taken care of,” Meisell pointed out.

But helpers offered their free time, pulling together to open the emporium.

Clark and Meisell purchased flooring for the Market Street space, and about 10 people turned out to help lay linoleum tiles after older flooring had been ripped out because of Irene’s watery intrusion.

“We had it knocked out in a day,” Meisell said. “It was amazing.”

Among the returning shop owners are Gary Ceres and Richard Snow, co-owners of the bookstore. The two are setting up a provisions room — equipped with spices and other treats — in the back of the emporium.

Ceres praised Clark, Meisell and Garleen Woolard, who managed Little Shoppes, for bringing back the store.

“It’s been a lot of hard work on their part in particular,” he said.