Plum Fancy: Gifts, nails,
chat attract customers
By By William F. West / community editor
Dec. 1, 2002
QUITMAN The smells of fingernail polish remover and numerous scented candles fill the air at Plum Fancy Gifts &Nails.
That's because owner and proprietor Monica Shirley has not one but two businesses under the same roof at the corner of Church Street and Highway 145.
Shirley, a 35-year-old Quitman native, worked more than a dozen years as a bank teller before deciding to go into business for herself.
She got the idea to open a gift shop from her aunt, Wilma Dearman, who had her own shop, Yesterday's Memories, located on Highway 18. She said she got the idea for the name "Plum Fancy" from her horse, named Fancy, and the old Southern saying about things being just plum fancy.
That was about 41/2 years ago.
Since then, the business has become a sight for sore eyes in a community with a declining economy in a county with the state's highest unemployment rate.
In a pleasant atmosphere, the shop offers candles, dolls, jewelry, pictures, potpourri, purses and stain glass and even a gurgling indoor fountain.
It also offers huge flags neutrally stocked with Mississippi State and Ole Miss logos. And it offers items for boys and men, such as cups and mugs with Harley Davidson logos, NASCAR logos or images of the late great racer Dale Earnhardt.
Eye for business
Not long after Shirley got into the gift shop business, she noticed a woman was enjoying success doing nails.
Shirley quickly found out that the hands she used to count money as a bank teller could also help her as a manicurist and pedicurist.
She said the nail business has developed to the point where she's busy full time Tuesdays through Saturdays, waiting on anywhere from 20 to 25 ladies.
She said she has even waited on men.
Family members help her run the gift shop, open Mondays through Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
One of them is Margarette Berry, Clarke County's former tax assessor/collector.
Shirley said chit-chat and gossip are also part of the atmosphere.
Knows problems first-hand
Shirley is plenty aware of Clarke County's economic downturn, not only from the sight of the closed plants, but also from personal experience.
Her husband of 14 years, Leon, had been a supervisor at the Burlington Stonewall plant before joining the unemployed ranks when it closed down earlier this year. He continues to look for work.
Shirley said business runs in spurts at the gift shop.
Shirley and her husband have a nine-year-old son, Grant, who seems to enjoy hanging around the business.
He said he gets some ribbing from family members about being the lone male in a female environment, but he's not complaining.
Asked whether he wants to go into the business, he said, "I may at some point."