Franklin inspires entrepreneurs to shift from furniture to fashion – The Tennessean
Robbie and Jerry Hembree, owners
Inspirations on Main
334 Main St.
1113 Murfreesboro Road, Suite 115
Not once but twice Robbie and Jerry Hembree intended to open a furniture store in Franklin.
Having been in the furniture business for 26 years, it only made sense that after relocating to Williamson County from Plainview, Texas, which is 47 miles north of Lubbock, they would continue in what had long since become the family business.
Instead the couple opened Inspirations on Main, an upscale gift shop.
That was in 2013, and two years later they opened Inspire Boutique.
Originally Inspire was going to be a furniture store, but the location proved to be too small so Robbie told her husband she was going to offer ladies fashion, handbags and shoes. âI brought everything I love in here,â she said, âand thatâs what we do.â
Robbie talked with The Tennessean about how their initialÂ plans for a furniture store instead led to an eclectic gift shop âÂ “For the person who has everything, we have everything else.â
No pun intended, but what was the inspiration behind opening your first store?
We just always dreamed of opening a nice little gift shop in a historic downtown and Franklin fit the bill. It was kind of like the good Lord intervened. I knew one person in Tennessee and that person was the connection that got us the lease on that building. I think thatâs where the good Lord wanted us.
Itâs not all that different than having been in the furniture business and yet itâs a lot different.
The basics are all the same. TheÂ product is different. Then your market is different, but, yeah, we had done furniture for 26 years before we moved here. It didnât start out as a gift shop. We were going to put furniture down there.
Really? How did you go from furniture to gifts?
We ordered a shipment of furniture from market before the store opened and when it was time for it to get delivered, the truck driver called and said, “My truck cannot deliver to downtown Franklin. Thereâs no way, no how I can get that truck down there and unload it.”Â We had to make arrangements to meet him at like 5 oâclock one morning. Jerry met him when it was empty down there and helped him unload it, so we knew right then that probably wasnât going to be the product to get into that compact area. So we decided to do a gift shop.
Wow. A delivery snafu changed your plans.
Yeah. We figured if we were going to have a problem getting product down there it was not going to be easy to make it work.
Speaking of changes, how has it worked out the way you thought and how has it been different?
Iâll tell you how itâs been different. Itâs been a lot more work than I ever thought it would beÂ (laughing). We thought going from a 40,000-square-foot store in Texas to a 2,000-square-foot-store here, “Oh, wonât be hard at all.” But we were wrong. Itâs definitely challenging in a high traffic area to keep a bunch of small items in stock than it was to try and keep a lot of big items in stock.
You have to know what your customers want and anticipate when to place an order.
We had a sharp learning curve and not much time to get there.
But itâs been fun?
We love it. We love retail and itâs obviously in our blood. We always go back to it, so I would say that we love it and we love working together. It just works really well for us.
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