With a background in journalism and communications, Peggy Davis is entering a new chapter in her life as the owner of Shop Girl, a new store at 106 Boonville Road, in the lower level of Hair Expressions building off West Main Street. The store is an eclectic mix of vintage, new and antique furniture, antiques and other products from local artists and craftspeople.
After retiring last December from 23 years working in communications for the state, including in the office of then Attorney General Jay Nixon and for the office of insurance and professional registration, she planned to write a book, the dream for most writers. Instead, she opened up her store in June.
A visit to Shop Girl is a must but make sure and allow some time to peruse her plentiful wares as new items are added every day. The floors and walls are full of her “finds” and she’s confident they will also appeal to her customers who want to add just the right piece or ambiance to their own spaces. In addition to the store, they offer workshops and classes.
Shop Girl is a welcomed addition to the Jefferson City boutique landscape.
A SMALL TOWN GIRL, she grew up in Shelbina, Missouri with the values of family and hard work. “My mother grew up during the Great Depression and never wasted anything. We grew or raised almost everything we ate and we made things all the time. If we needed something we made it. I had three siblings close in age and I remember making tree houses and dollhouses. We were always crafty. My mom and dad encouraged that and we had a strong work ethic. I held jobs at a nursing home and my sister and I painted the exterior and interior of the building. I have always worked and even now when I am retired I still enjoy working.”
A JACK OF MANY TRADES. She worked as a writer, photographer and graphic designer at a small daily newspaper, the Macon Chronicle Herald. “When you work at a small newspaper people know you and tell you what they think, they held you accountable.” Davis received her masters degree in journalism from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. Then she moved to Shreveport, Louisiana to work for a newspaper there owned by Gannet. The editor was gone one day and she was on her own to get the newspaper out and Ronald Reagan was shot that day by John Hinckley (March 30, 1981 at 1:24 p.m. CST).
SHE INTERNED AT THE CAPITOL working with a legislator during her senior year of college at Truman University, where she graduated with minors in mass communications and business administration. “When I later moved to Jefferson City it felt like returning home. I have lived in the same house on Hazelton near the store and I love this neighborhood. I thought I would be here two or three years but I liked it so I stayed.”
A CELEBRATION OF OLD SCHOOL. She co-owned a futon store in Kirkwood with her sister. “I used to cold call people from the phone directory to develop the business there. For Shop Girl I didn’t study and look at demographics, I just went with my gut feeling that it would be successful. I did it the old-fashioned way. I live just down the street and I love the neighborhood, so when I saw the space was available month after month I bought it and took possession of it in April. I did some remodeling. Michelle Distler was a godsend in helping me get the store up and running.”
“I REALLY DON’T LIKE TO SHOP…but I opened a shop. I am a communicator and when I was setting up the store I asked myself, ‘what do I want to get out of it?’ What do I want other people to get out of it?’ People walk in here and it’s really an experience rather than just to buy something. Our mission isn’t only to sell stuff. We like to know the history of the items we buy and many items have a story. We bought a shovel from someone who told us about its owner, Ben, who had passed away, and he loved growing tomatoes. So when someone else bought that shovel we told them about Ben.”
THE QUEEN OF REPURPOSING AND REUSING, her finds come from garage sales, auctions and buying items from individuals. “I usually have big garage sales several times a year so the store is a homage to what we used to do. Only here when we sell something, we have to go find other things to replace them. Finding the items is the fun part of it. Almost 99 percent of what we sell in the store is made in America and we are buying from local individuals and people who make things so the money stays in the community.”
Shop Girl sells Sammysoap made by a woman in Kirkwood and Pat Barlett sells her photography books and postcards through her company B unique. They sell Mudpaint too for all the DIYers. We hold painting and creative journaling in the store and Michelle is going to give Mudpainting classes too, with other artists leading painting and creative journaling in the store.”
PEOPLE NEED TO WORK WITH THEIR HANDS. “It’s good to paint, dig in the soil and work with your hands. It takes your mind off things and puts you in a better place. It’s free therapy. If you’re having a stressful day, it’s good to create something and the workshops are fun and rewarding. We’ve lost a piece of ourselves by not working with our hands more. People want to learn something new like making jewelry or growing things.”
A MASTER GARDENER, she’s also been involved in the Bittersweet Garden Club. “If I could do anything else it would be a landscape architect. Right now the front of my store is my front yard. My creative endeavor is the store.”
HER GRAND OPENING WAS CALLED HAZEL DAY, after her mother. “I had some great mentors and teachers but my mother was the original great teacher. My mom moved in with me 14 years ago then had a stroke and ended up in a wheelchair, so my sister and I took care of her.” She passed last year.
BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR IS SECOND NATURE. She once bought and sold houses and handled the business, budget and marketing. “I am very detailed oriented. I am at the store every day. I enjoy seeing our regular customers who check in often to see what we’ve added since their last visit. We take photos of our customers with their purchases and we put that on Facebook and that has worked well for us. Most people comment about liking the atmosphere in the store and they’re not always looking at their phones. Sometimes they do use their phone to take a photo of something in the store and that’s what I had envisioned happening. I don’t think there is a store like us in Jefferson City and being in the shop seems to be uplifting for people. When people leave the store they seem to be in a better place.”