Going Home.

I’m good at teaching, a gift I’ve confidently used for more than half my life. I’ve taught third grade, sixth grade, special education, preschool, homeschool, private school, music lessons… I can teach.

But playing teacher and being an actual student aren’t necessarily so familiar as merely different sides of a coin. I hadn’t taken a test without an answer key in twenty years, and the prospect of doing such a thing all over again seemed a bit overwhelming. Yet, there I was, sitting cross legged on the back row of a modern classroom, attempting to focus for stretches of time on just one subject.

Real Estate. Realtor. The act of helping others buy property, buy houses, businesses, large investments, buy homes. That’s the subject of the tests I willingly took.

And after class, and when my world seemed exhausting and when I needed to breath easily, I went to my own home. Home to my kids. Home to my dog.

Home to my particular spot on my particular couch. I just. went. Home.

An old fireplace with an intricately carved mantle surrounding old, faded, sooted brick. Antique apple crates stacked in such a pattern as to create the perfect desk base. My child’s portrait hanging on the foyer wall. A viola propped at attention. Books stacked carelessly, piled high about every room.

The dog, blonde and small, curled in his favorite chair, snoring quietly. Soft, worn rugs scattered about the house. An extra large bed, wrapped in flannel and down, warm lamps illuminating pale corners. Sudsy soap in the kitchen sink, last night’s dishes haphazardly soaking, the hum and slosh of the dishwasher running.

Children stomping through the hall, doors opening and closing loudly, hurried sounds of boys focused on the business of play. My mother’s ring resting in the pottery dish a child’s hand shaped years ago. Light streaming through the cool glass of a front window. Daylight indoors. Me, nestled beneath the coverlet, computer perched on a pillow, writing.

After a weekend of classes, it was these familiarities that fed me. Nourished me for another week. Wrapped me warmly, welcoming and restful.

When I visit my childhood abode, or I breathe Tennessee air or drink coffee on my porch in York – When I set bare feet upon damp, warm soil or I attend a Sunday service at an Episcopal Church or I sit in the balcony at Allison Creek Presbyterian – I experience home.

Home.DogMonths have passed since real estate school. The license firmly hangs at Keller Williams in Fort Mill. Marching forward, real estate offers new, surprising, fun opportunities.  And still, at the end of the day, that particular couch in that particular house on that particular street calls on me.

The little blonde dog waits, curled and snoring. And I, well, I go home.


Holley Steele of The Beaded Dragon

People of Yorkville Series – Holley Steele of The Beaded Dragon

How did you come up with your name?

HS: I wanted something catchy and there’s a lot of artisan crafts and jewelry in here. I was going to be The Beaded Lady for a second but I thought people might call me The Bearded Lady, so I went with The Beaded Dragon and my logo is the dragonfly.

Beaded Dragon 1

This is my first time business owning; I’ve been here since March, so I’m coming down the homestretch on my first year. I get a lot of my stuff from Asheville and Brevard. They have the best antique shops, vintage shops, little shops, so I just pick up things here or there. I like anything kind of eclectic, odd, anything that’s bohemian. A lot of my vendors are local artists, so it them an outlet to be seen. I have Louise Bradford Blanks in here right now. She’s absolutely amazing. I love her colorful vibe.

Beaded Dragon 4…..

The majority of people that I have in here, which I don’t have a lot, are local vendors. I’ve got a thirteen year old girl who makes her own jewelry came in, so I’ve got her up on the wall over there. I’m just trying to support my local arts, my local community.


Did you have any fears in opening a business?

HS: I absolutely did….How well I was going to be received, because again, it’s a little different. I don’t have Gamecock and Clemson stuff. It’s not monogramming. It’s a little different. You just don’t know if people are going to like it. The majority of people come in here and love it. My customers are really loyal. Once I get somebody in here, they always come back to see me. Every once in awhile I’ll get somebody that’ll come in the door and I’m pretty sure they think I’m a witch (she laughs, because she’s not a witch, people) because they’re like, Oooh interesting, and they’ll turn around and walk right back out. But I’m like, well, you can’t please all the people all the time! (laughter)

Beaded Dragon 3

At this point a customer interjected to say that she was new, and she loved the shop and the fact that she could find a unique gift. The pieces caught her eye right as she walked in the door.

HS: My demographic is myself, so I’m like the regular, blue collar, workin’ chick. So, umm, the most expensive dress I probably have in here is $25. Right, it’s not a boutique. That’s not my demographic. York is a blue collar town, so I didn’t want to bring something in that was super high priced. I mean, who doesn’t want a really cool dress for twelve bucks or a fun vintage bag for twenty bucks?

Beaded Dragon 2

The community has really come out. There’s a lot of art and artist and people that want original pieces and people that want something a little different and you know, it helps so much when people support something like this because the Waltons and all of those people, they’re just going to buy a bigger yacht and I’m providing Christmas presents for children who live in the community and I work in the community. So when people get on board with shopping small and being loyal to small shops, it can make us or break us. I know everybody has to go to Walmart because it really is a great value (laughter), you have to go in there sometimes, but as far as gift giving and finding something original, it helps so much.

What would be a struggle you’ve experienced?

HS: I would say the lack of, the empty businesses down here. That hurts. The buildings, people will have properties and they’ll just sit on them, which is the worst thing that you can do for a downtown. And the rent that some people charge, I don’t know how they’re thinking that they are going to get the rent because we are in a small town, so that is difficult. Because you want you downtown, for every spot to be filled up. That is the biggest thing, that people that live in the community that own these buildings just let them sit there and they don’t do anything with them. That hurts their community. I don’t know if they think of it that way, but it’s true.

A lot of downtowns, I learned, have ordinances, where businesses, owners, they have six months to sell it or rent it, and I’m thinking, hmm, we need that here. Right? It would help them too for tax purposes; it does nobody any good to leave them empty.

What has been the best outcome of opening the shop?

HS: I’ve made a lot of really good friends down here. It’s my customer base. Because it’s a small town, they’re really loyal, they’ll come in and come in again, and again, and you start to make friends. Because I didn’t know anybody when I came to York. I knew my landlord, and that was just because she was my landlord. And now I have lifetime friends, being down here.


Frank’s Jewelers

Frank's 2
Silver pieces with exchangeable gems

Last week I had the distinct opportunity to speak with Walter of Frank’s Jewelers in York. Walter’s wife runs the anchor store in Clover, while the branch store in downtown York sits settled right on Congress Street since 2003.

Frank's 3
Silver rings with exchangeable stones

We did not engage in a formal interview, but instead spent a good hour talking casually about all sorts of things. I asked lots of questions for myself, personally needing to update and exchange a few pieces of jewelry myself, and we toured the shop at length, me admiring lots of gorgeous pieces. Having lived in York six years now, I am ashamed to say this was the first time I had been in Frank’s Jewelers, having wrongly assumed that it was a high end store out of my economical grasp.


Frank's 6
Men’s gifts
Frank's 5
Prayer Bracelets from Nepal

In truth, the shop is perfect for our small downtown, offering a wide variety of intricate, simple, and exquisite jeweled items that are in fact, often affordable. I will most certainly become a quick regular and look forward to visiting Walter often in the future.

His store encompasses:

jewelry repair, watch repair, appraisals, engraving, special orders, interest-free layaway, gift certificates, precious metal recycling, trade in/ trade up, jewelry care

Frank's 4


Life After Lemons with Jennifer Shull

(Logo taken from Jen’s blog, https://lifeafterlemons.com)

How did you get started making candy?

JS: Back when I was twelve we went to a candy making party that one of my aunts or cousins was having and I really took a liking to it. My mom supported it and got me a starter kit and I just took off from there.

I took some time off from making candy when I was married because it wasn’t a big deal then. So I’ve started it up again since my divorce since it was a relaxing thing. But my mom is the one that got me started and supported me through all that. She’s the one that taught me my caramel recipe I use. She and I worked on that together. My caramel recipe is really well known around here and I’ve been asked to jar it.

Jenn - Life After Lemons

I use local when I can so my apples and my strawberries are from Bush N’ Vine. That’s their mountain apples and their winter strawberries.


JS: Lack of communication with….pretty much with the city. Being a new owner there was not a lot, I feel like the city and the chamber should have a new business owner type packet to let you know what’s going on or to let them know what’s expected of them. Summerfest in August did not go well because of lack of communication. There were a few other things that did not go well because of lack of communication.

(Jen went on to explain that the positive part of this struggle is that the officials are willing to listen and that she has a meeting with the mayor to discuss solutions. She was pleased with her ability to have a voice and is actively working to help with solutions regarding communication between the city and downtown business owners.)


JS: My fear is being out on the street because I live upstairs too. I wake up in the mornings, get myself ready, and I’m down here.

Poignant moment?

The kids coming in. The kids that have never been here before, as soon as they walk through the door, I should really just have a video camera to capture the look on their faces. That makes it worth the struggle right there. Some of my regulars, their kids come over here (behind the counter) and they hug me before they leave. That’s what keeps me going.

What drew you to be downtown? To live and work in downtown?

Jenn - Life After Lemons2

JS: The idea I had in my head for a candy store, it was not going to work at a strip mall, anything like that, because it’s the old time feel. So I knew I needed a historical district. I have friend who lives down here, so when I was looking for a spot, she’s like come to York. I think it’s where you need to be. And even now, I walk outside and I’m amazed at the beauty of the town.

We talked about all sorts of things, her candies, her Oops! Bags, and we were winding down….

Jenn - Life After Lemons3

JS: …..I love what I do. Even though it’s stressful, it’s less stress than I had in the corporate world because it’s stress I can control.

Jen and I spent awhile together, talking both about candy and about writing, life in York, and all sorts of good bits of conversation. I mean, it’s a candy store, people! Go visit she shop and chat her up yourself or read more about her journey at lifeafterlemons.com

Mike Foster – Modern Rehab (Formerly York Vintage Thrift and Restoration)

Mike - Vintage Thrift
Mike Foster

MF: So essentially I’m moving. I’m moving from a box, a brick and mortar to online. (The new store will have a) Different name – Modern Rehab.

It’s going to be in three parts – the first component would be vintage clothing, second is vintage decor, collectibles, maybe small home wares, home goods. The third is going to be for local and that will be furniture that I refinish and pieces like that. The other element for the clothing is I want to be able to allow for a pop up shop. Pop up shop is like just what it sounds like. You’re there for a day, two days.

Mike - Vintage Thrift 2


Biggest Struggle?

MF: On the surface, I would say the financial end of it. It quite a bear to keep up with it. But that’s just on the surface. But the amount of work that I do that goes into finding the items to get them and then, it’s just an incredible amount of work. So I’m going to buy, like, early mornings, late evenings, and then I’m fixing it and preparing it to be on the show room and then I have to do all the work for the showroom and then there’s all the book work, so it’s sixty, seventy hours a week. So that’s an incredible amount of time it takes to do the job and that’s behind the scenes that nobody sees. You know, you come down to the shop for an hour. That’s probably the biggest struggle. And time management. But the cool thing is I’ve learned so much.

Mike Vintage Thrift 3

What is your best part of being in downtown York?

The people. The whole spectrum, from you to I guess elderly and everybody in between. And so it’s cool to be able to meet so many people. That’s my favorite part of it. Just meeting people. Being involved I guess, in the community by learning their story, knowing them and being able to share with them too and participate in life together. I love that.

Mike Vintage Thrift 4

A moment?

Many of the same type of thing, and that is a lot of people come in and they’re down, they’re broken hearted, something has happened to them and they share with me and I have the opportunity to pray with them, to give them words of wisdom, words of kindness and just love on them and that…that is… that is the highest, the peak of it all. All this other stuff, if I were to do all this for just that one person, I don’t care how much work I’ve done, I don’t care, that’s a high. And you can’t touch that high. And I’ve had that experience, oh gosh, twenty times, fifty times? I don’t know. A lot. And I love it. I’ll chase that feeling.

**Contact Mike at ModernRehabClothing@gmail.com This page will be updated as he launches his new online business.**


Anita Hardin – Downtown Music Lessons and More

Anita Hardin - Downtown Music

(Anita, standing at the ice cream counter. Downtown Music is more than a music store; it’s a local hangout and a great place to grab an afternoon cup o’joe or treat as well.)

Happiest Moment?

AH: Being able to have the grandkids come in here with us.

JH: Kids and grandkids can still come in while we’re working. It’s not like we’re in a factory and nobody can get to you. Here, even if we’re doing something, it don’t stop the grandkids from coming up and grabbing your leg.

AH: And eating ice cream!

Biggest change?

AH: There is no downtown York anymore. The big box stores have taken over and we don’t have the down home down here.

Opportunity for someone wanting to come into downtown?

AH: It could be done so easy. It’s so close. A few more good stores and it would be back. And everybody cooperating and not fighting each other.

…..Any kind of craft store or specialty store of any kind, where you can’t go anywhere else and get it. That’s why people come to us. 

Please visit Anita Hardin and Joe Hardin at the shop or online at https://downtownmusiclessons.com


Joe Hardin – Downtown Music Lessons and More

Joe Hardin - Downtown Music

Biggest change in York?

When the Bi-Los came in, that was the biggest change, because my whole life, everything was about downtown York. You bought everything, your produce, your groceries, everything was downtown York. I grew up shopping at the drug stores. Everything downtown York. Then when the Bi-Los came in, the supermarkets – super centers, then everything started moving away from downtown York. Now everything’s on the outside of town. Downtown. Nobody comes there much anymore.


The biggest thing is the traffic, getting people back in to downtown York. That’s the biggest thing. That’s what we try to do. We try to bring people back to York. Because I’d like to see it like it was when I grew up. Like a little small town where every shop is filled with a necessity or something fun.

Happiest moment?

Walking out at night and standing on the street and looking down both ways and pretending I’m in Mayberry. Every night I do that and it’s just fun. The happiest part of my day is when I start to close up and I go to check the door and I walk out and look up and down and it’s just a small town and you see people, summertime, older folks walking up and down the street doing their exercises late at night, not worried about anybody attacking them or anything like that.


Visit Joe at the shop or online at https://downtownmusiclessons.com

Ronnie Bailes – The Men’s Shop


Ronnie Bailes Interview – November 29th, 2017

How long has this store been open? How long have you owned The Men’s Shop?

RB: Well, the store has been open since 1948. 69 years. It was started by my father. I purchased the store from my family January 1st, 1973. So, I’ve owned it 45 years. This is my 45th year.  So, I’ve owned it long enough and loved doing it, but it’s time to retire and unfortunately the only way to quit it is to close it.

What is one of the happiest or funniest or most memorable moments from owning the shop?

RB: Wow. It’s a collective memory of having young guys work for me that have come out of high school kind of, you know, shy, and watch them go to college. They come back and work after the first year of college, they come back in the summertime and they’re mature. They’re mature men. I’ve really enjoyed that and I’ve mentored a lot of kids. It’s been, I don’t know how many, but I’ve had some of them come back, and I had one in here yesterday. He’s sixty years old. He was my first.

One of my additional questions to Ronnie surrounded his plans for retirement. He explained his need to have some time without a strict schedule of responsibility. He’s taking six months to spend time with family, visit grandkids, and finish the paperwork of closing The Men’s Shop. After that, he’ll consider new opportunities.