While the COVID-19 pandemic has closed businesses -- some permanently -- it led several women to open some of their own, all under one roof.
Hen and Chicken Papers -- a custom stationery store that’s been in operation for 45 years -- has been on the bottom floor of a building on North Center Street in Hickory for four years. After the COVID-19 shutdown closed its doors for a few months, it has reopened with three new businesses by its side.
Weddings by Ridgway, a wedding planning and decorating service, Sharon Sturgess Floral, a wedding, event and gift florist, and Shue’s Gallery, an art gallery, are joining Hen and Chicken in the lower floor of 2120 N. Center St.
Lisa Ridgway, owner of Weddings by Ridgway, has been working with Sally Brown at Hen and Chicken for years before starting her own standalone business.
Ridgway started her planning and decorating career through church and community events years ago. Over time, she started getting requests for weddings, company events and more. Now, she offers her services from fully planning and decorating an event, to day-of-wedding directing or just decorations.
Ridgway connected with people getting married and holding events through Hen and Chicken, as many came in for custom invitations. Now, she’s set up her own business across the aisle and in the same storefront as the Hen and Chicken.
Alongside those two, Sharon Sturgess is jumping into the wedding business with floral arrangements.
Sturgess has been in the floral business since she was in high school. She started as a cleaners at a shop in Hickory, then worked her way up to design. After years as an art teacher doing floral arrangements on the side, Sturgess decided to finally take the leap and expand her flower business alongside Ridgway and Brown, Sturgess said.
“I’ve got an opportunity to step out in a new direction now,” she said.
Along with wedding and event floral design, Sturgess is also offering floral delivery subscription service she’s calling “Hand Picked.” People can sign up for weekly, bi-weekly or monthly flower deliveries as a gift or a token of appreciation.
Selina Shue, owner of Shue’s Gallery and the building, said after a tenant that used to occupy the upstairs and much of the downstairs space moved out, the wedding businesses made a perfect addition to her building.
With the extra space, she set up a gallery to display her son Houston Shue’s work and that of other up-and-coming artists.
Shue’s son, who is a college student, is the reason she chose to open the gallery. With so much time on his hands, he started painting outdoor scenes almost daily. Shue gave him somewhere to display them.
Morgan Honeycutt, a recent college graduate, is occupying a second gallery space.
“I’m looking for an opportunity for people to see my work outside of commissions,” Honeycutt said.
The extra time that COVID-19 gave Houston Shue to paint every day is what Ridgway and Sturgess decided to take advantage of to open their new business, Ridgway said.
“Rather than sit around and dilly dally, we at least want to say we tried something,” she said.
The upstairs portion of the building is still empty, and Shue is searching for the perfect tenant to complement the downstairs businesses, she said.
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