All About Eve: Downtown Shop Is Just Part of A Fulfilling Life
At some point, frequent shoppers in downtown Southern Pines have surely noticed the small Pekingese-Pomeranian curled up in the window of Eve Avery's shop.
Most patrons of her shop are more likely to know the dog by her real name, Tooney.
"She comes to work with me every day," Avery says. "She just loves hanging out in the window."
Besides Tooney, there is a lot about the shop called Eve Avery, at 131 N.E. Broad St., that draws customers through the doorway. Bright turquoise walls, spring-colored flowers, the soft hint of music and cutting-edge style of clothing put shoppers in a cheerful mood.
"I enjoy offering Southern Pines shoppers things that are eclectic and trendy," Avery says. "I guess if I had to sum it up, my store would be considered as sophisticated-hip."
Avery's love for fashion didn't start in Moore County. Raised in Wilmington, she began working as a young adult at Wonder Shop there, where she received her first taste of the world of fashion retail.
"I just loved it," she says. "I knew I really enjoyed doing that."
She then went to work for Hilda Godwin's, also in Wilmington, where Avery learned nearly everything she knows about customer service.
"I really received a lot of good training from Hilda," she says. "She is a wonderful businesswoman and taught me about being service-oriented."
Although Avery was enjoying her life in Wilmington, her family began to need her in Moore County. Her grandfather, who was a professional horseman and owner of a horse farm off Youngs Road, needed someone to care for his horses and help train them. In September 1991, Avery moved into a house on May Street and began working at the farm.
"It was a pretty big change for me," she says. "I was familiar with the area."
Avery was working at the farm daily and spending Friday afternoons working for Judy Broadhurst, owner of Broadhurst Gallery. Not long after, she decided to expand her love for animals a little further. She began working for Broadhurst's husband, Jack, at his cat veterinary clinic.
"I did about everything there was to do there," she says. "I did everything from cleaning kennels to assisting him with surgeries."
While living in Southern Pines, Avery made friends with many downtown business owners. One of them, Debbie Cochran, owner of Cat Banjo, saw that Avery had a talent with fashion and an eye for color. Eventually, she convinced Avery to go into a partnership with her.
For the next six months, the two worked together, until Cochran decided to move her business to Raleigh. Having built up many friendships and a good clientele, Avery finally decided to strike out on her own and begin leasing the space on Broad Street in January 2001.
"I really wanted my own shop," she says. "You either do it or you forget about it. Obviously, this was meant to be."
'My Own Direction'
Assuming ownership, Avery was finally able to give the store her own idea of style.
"I took it in my own direction -- something more cool and funky than what the rest of Southern Pines had seen at the time," she says."
She also began traveling to other cities to get fashion ideas and bring them back to Southern Pines. She still works with some of the same sales people she first met back in 2001 at the Atlanta Apparel Market.
"There is something in here for every age and every size," she says. "Most people don't realize that about my store. I have something for everyone."
As far as traveling abroad, Avery doesn't do it that much anymore. But when she does, she likes to bring ideas home with her to add to her store.
"I've found that traveling like that has become almost like a working vacation," she says. "I do like it, though, because it validates my own decisions that I have made as far as the look of the store goes. In this industry, it's crucial to remain fashion-forward."
These days, Avery enjoys offering her clients a taste of the latest styles by selling jewelry and hats made by local designers.
"It's really important to the community to offer things that the folks in the area are designing and making," she says.
Avery also finds time to call her frequent shoppers to tell them about the latest fashions that she has in the store. On several occasions, she has been known to box up several of her newest items and send them to clients living out of state.
"I've always tried to keep my clients first," she says. "You can't sit around and wait for clients to come to you. You have to go to them."
'Learned a Lot'
In addition to her shop in Southern Pines, Avery also operates a wardrobe consulting business out of her home. She offers everything from closet organization to personal shopping. For her messier clients, she also offers her services in packing for travel.
She's also been active with the Humane Society and participates with fundraisers at the Companion Animal Clinic, a low-cost spay and neuter clinic. Avery is still somewhat involved in helping coordinate local fashion shows and working with the Arts Council of Moore County. She also has worked as a stylist with PineStraw magazine.
"One of the things I really like about Eve is that she will take things that you would never expect to look good together, and when it's all said and done, it looks really sharp," says Andie Rose, creative director of PineStraw magazine. "She really thinks about the individual and tries to match clothes with their personality."
When she isn't working at her store, Avery enjoys spending time at her Pinehurst home with her fianc, Ron, their five cats and, of course, Tooney. For exercise, she practices yoga regularly in the afternoons. Since she runs the store single-handedly, she decided to close on Sundays.
"It's so important not to get burnt out with what you are doing," she says. "You have to stay fresh with your ideas and the things you have going on."
But in the end, Avery says she wouldn't trade her lifestyle for anything in the world.
"I'm happy where I am," she says. "I've been in this business for 30 years, and I've learned a lot. I'm happy here. This is my home."
Jenny Fitter can be reached at 693-2480 or at email@example.com.
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