I met Becky Walker inside her new boutique during the Open Streets event and made arrangements to return to learn more about the store. According to her, I wasn’t the only person who discovered the business that day. A large number browsed in the store that day and quite a few have returned.
Originally from Morristown, Becky attended UT in the 1980s and never left Knoxville. She studied Merchandising and Design which she confessed she chose because she like to shop. She quickly found that the major involves more than a little math and science which, fortunately, she grew to enjoy.
After college she enjoyed a wide range of experiences, starting off with a job in a small boutique and a job in the mall. She worked for a number of years with Goody’s first as an assistant buyer and later as a product manager, helping select and source children’s clothing. In this role she was able to travel to Asia and learned a great deal. Before leaving the company she also worked with hard goods – gifts and accessories – and learned more that would be helpful later in her career.
For the next eight years she worked for Dollywood. While at Goody’s she was responsible for bringing in goods at an acceptable margin, at Dollywood she dealt with every aspect of supply management. It helped her begin to shape her own philosophy of business and that turned out to be an important thing in her life.
She’d always talked about opening a shop in Folly Beach when she retired. On a trip there she saw an empty store front and decided that she would not wait, but would follow her dream of owning a shop, but she’d do it back home in Knoxville. She cites Dolly Parton as an inspiring figure who set out to reach a goal and refused to fail.
As a tip of the hat to the place that first inspired her, she opened the first Folly Boutique in Fountain City in March of 2014. She’s lived in Old North or Fountain City since arriving in Knoxville nearly thirty years ago, so the choice of a location was easy. It was a success from the beginning and she began considering a second location.
On a Sunday afternoon a few months ago she visited Central Flats and Taps with her nephew and was startled to see how busy the restaurant and the block was on a Sunday afternoon. She decided then she wanted to open her second location near there. She began talking to Jay Nations who owns Raven Records about a spot, but he needed all his space, so she crossed the street and talked to her friends Dan and Peggy who own the Time Warp Tea Room. They had a space available next door and she took it for the second home of Folly.
She opened the store on September 12 and says that people have been discovering the store slowly, but she’s now getting word-of-mouth and repeat business. Interestingly, Happy Hollerpalooza was her biggest day for volume ever for both of the stores. She really liked the Open Streets event because people leisurely looked around and made plans to return. Further than that, she said she felt it had a community feeling that she really likes and that she finds in Fountain City.
Of the new location she says she’s excited and in it for the long haul. She’s learning the differences in the two communities she serves – even though they are only a couple of miles apart. She enjoys the fact that retail is constantly changing and enjoys the challenge of keeping up.
Her stock is eclectic. She says she wants to have something for everybody and strives to be inclusive rather than exclusive. Her “Straight Outta Happy Holler” tshirts have been a very big hit. She has $3.99 earrings and beautiful items like Susan Lee’s wrist rock*its. The fashion leans bohemian as a rule, but there are classic exceptions including classy orange-wear for tailgating. She has blouses, scarves, dresses, jewelry, leggings and more. Most of the clothing is under $40.
You’ll find her across the street from Central Flats and Taps and next to the Time Warp Tea Room. The initial hours are 11:30 AM – 7:00 PM Tuesday through Saturday and she is closed on Sunday and Monday. She says that could change during the holidays, though she’s not sure. She will also have an Open House to coincide with the Old North Victorian Home Tour on December 5. Drop in and check out the new store and be sure to tell her you saw it here.