A one-year anniversary celebration this weekend at a downtown Laurens retail mall was more than simply acknowledging a year of business success, but it was also an observance of what can be accomplished through hard work, more than a little skill, determination to treat people well, and don’t forget – listening to God.
In the sprawling first floor of what had been Laurens Furniture and then an antique retailer storefront, Designs by D opened its vendor mall at 120 South Public Square in downtown Laurens. After this full year of constant businesses and great relationships with talented vendors, there was plenty to celebrate, said owner Diane Smith of the business that she and her husband, Anthony, opened June 5, 2022.
For many years Diane had plenty of familiarity as a vendor booth renter. She’d been creating and selling a wide variety of wreaths and artificial flower arrangements from her home, renting vendor spaces in Fountain Inn and other locations and serving as an event decorator and coordinator. Anthony had his scissors and knife sharpening business, “Cutting Edge Solutions,” and as they were both retired from corporate careers, she decided a few years back also to try a couple of festivals.
“I did Squealin’ on the Square and I fell in love with Laurens,” Diane said, “and right then and there I knew I wanted to be in Laurens some day with my business.”
She spent about a year within a vendor booth upstairs in what was then The Tree Loft, and in January 2022 she told volunteers from The Laurens County Museum she’d like to be considered as a tenant for the space next door.
That’s about when God told her to buy the beautiful wooden counter from the original Coffee Roost in Laurens.
“I didn’t even have a place for it yet, and there were a lot of people who wanted to rent this space,” Diane said. “I was afraid I’d be in trouble with Anthony but he said, ‘If the Lord told you to buy it, then this is your time.’ We got the call that we could get the building, and Anthony spent two weeks painting and working on it and two weeks later we opened with 23 vendors.”
Now a year later, the Saturday, June 2, celebration included refreshments, hourly door prizes presented by many of her very diverse and talented vendors and a steady stream of customers.
The expanded space has allowed for many changes within Diane and Anthony’s businesses as well. Anthony created Diane’s long-awaited Ribbon Wall, and she has plenty of space and additional staff to create wreaths and commissioned arrangements. Diane is now the regular event coordinator for the museum’s Magnolia Room and is called to design for other spaces nearby as well.
Anthony branched out from sharpening to include sales of a wide variety of decorative pocket knives and large handcrafted Damascus Knives, hand created by an extended family of Tennessee blacksmiths.
There’s a social area for relaxing, enjoying coffee and, as Diane says with a grin, “solving the worlds problems while the rest of us work.”
It’s also the spot for a Thursday after-hours men’s Bible study.
“We have incredible vendors and we’re like a family,” Diane said.
Designs by D is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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