If you’re causally strolling downtown, stop in and experience LEE & Co. DTWN Market at 401 Pine Street.
The shop displays many one-of-a-kind finds in only 400 square feet of space. It’s “the little store with much, much more!” Pillows. Coffee. Flour. Snacks. Marshmallow roasting rods. Scented laundry detergent. Italian soaps. Charcuterie boards.
The store opened on April 1 in honor of the birthday of the owner’s grandmother. Lisa and Jamie Bailey are two of Abilene’s most entrepreneurial entrepreneurs. They own The Arrangement, a full-service florist and boutique which celebrates its 25th anniversary this October, The Warehouse, an event center for corporate events, reunions, weddings and gatherings of all kinds in its 18th year, as well as 389 Venue now in its 7th year.
“My sister, Jamie, and I wanted to open Lee & Co. on a date dear to us,” said the store’s co-owner, Lisa Bailey. “A date that gave an affectionate nod to our maternal grandmother, Erma Lee Shelton.”
Erma Lee was the first in a three-generation family legacy of entrepreneurship. She and her husband, Lee Shelton, started one of Abilene’s first dance clubs and private membership bars, The Big Country Club, and was located on North 1st (a location that would later become B & L Carpets and in business for 49 years).
Lee & Co. DTWN Market was originally pitched as a little drop-in shop to primarily serve the many residents of the Windsor Hotel (there’s a second store entrance via the hotel lobby) as well as the growing number of visiting “Airbnb’ers” staying in Windsor’s apartments. But the store’s purpose grew into a greater vision for the Big Country.
“We grew up working,” Lisa said. “Dad and mom wanted each of us to know every aspect of business life so from the time each of us was 10 years-old or so, my sister and I were rolling up carpet remnants, staining Saltillo tile, measuring installation jobs and anything else that needed doing.”
When asked if she had any hard-earned wisdom or secrets to success. “Always do things the right way,” she said without having to stop to think about it. “And be persistent,” she added. “There’s always a way. Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
Story and Photos By Andy Holmes