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A Touch of Country comes to town

The store at 11 E. Potomac St. features an eclectic selection of home decor items and furniture at reasonable prices.

The store at 11 E. Potomac St. features an eclectic selection of home decor items and furniture at reasonable prices.

October 16, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

andrear@herald-mail.com

WILLIAMSPORT - Shane and Diane French have added A Touch of Country to 11 E. Potomac St. in Williamsport.

The couple's new store in the spacious building which once housed a bicycle shop features an eclectic selection of old and new country-, traditional- and primitive-style home decor items and furniture at reasonable prices.

"We know to make a good go of it we have to keep our prices low," Shane French said. "We want to offer a good quality at a low price."

The pleasant-smelling store boasts a wide selection of scented candles and such seasonal merchandise as primitive-style wooden Santa figures and handmade cloth Santa dolls with real wool beards, stuffed snowmen climbing wooden ladders, framed fall and holiday prints, unusual ornaments and pine and berry wreaths and garlands.

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Diane French plans to unveil even more holiday treats - including decorated Christmas trees - by the end of October, she said.

The shop brims with such items as antique quilting racks, copper pots, decorative tins, ceramic crocks, wrought iron hangers, decorative wooden wall plaques, handmade teddy bears, electric tart burners and dried flower arrangements.

"And this is my pride and joy," said French, pointing to a porcelain-top reproduction Hoosier cabinet, complete with the trademark bread box and flour bin. The large piece is priced at about $1,200.

A Pennsylvania-based manufacturer produces most of the store's larger furniture offerings - including antique-looking pie safes, jelly cupboards and shelving units, French said.

The furniture maker with whom she does business in Lancaster, Pa., sells beautiful solid oak dining room sets and barnwood tables and benches that French would carry in her store if she had more space, she said. She can now satisfy most customer requests for furnishings in different colors or styles through custom orders.

French plans to open a third room in her store within the next month, which will enable her to expand her selection of furniture and other items, she said.

The additional space might also be used for a rotating selection of goods from local artists and craftspersons and to house a bargain area, Shane French said.

The fruits of his creative flair have already found a home in A Touch of Country. French's handmade wooden Shaker-style stands, shelves and benches have been popular sellers, his wife said.

The store's framed prints also "just fly out the door because they're priced really well," said Diane French, who runs the store seven days a week with help from her husband and other family members.

Her mother, Frances Myers, fills in for French when she goes on buying trips and runs errands during operating hours. And her sister, Kay Pepa, "helps out a lot" by serving as a merchandise buyer for the store, French said.

She and her husband, who live in Hagerstown, enjoy owning a business on a busy street in a town to which they have ties.

"We're both really from the area. We still know a lot of good people in Williamsport," said Shane French, whose father owned a store in town. Diane French is a graduate of Williamsport High School, and her mother owned a beauty salon in Williamsport, she said.

The couple hopes to lend a hand to local school fund-raisers by donating store items for raffles, and inviting students to sell such store merchandise as scented candles in return for a percentage of the profits, Shane French said.

His wife holds monthly door prize drawings for her customers.

A Touch of Country is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The phone number is 301-223-1899.

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