December 19, 2016

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Steve Siler is a song writer, and founder and director of Music for the Soul, a non-profit music ministry. He is writing this column on behalf of Downtown Frankfort, Inc., a Kentucky Main Street program.


Simply Garden a Wonderland

Downtown store is a Treasure Trove!

When I went up the steps at Simply Garden I expected to enter a store with, well, garden stuff in it.  What met my eyes instead was a colorful, whimsical, just plain fun space filled with a dazzling array of beautiful gifts and things for the yard and home.

Co-owners Teresa Abell and Kim Hicks say the business started out about four years ago with the pair helping people decorate their outdoor patio spaces and decorative planters. A few years later a friend suggested they get a little retail space.  Not long after the space opened up people started coming in looking for gifts. They’ve responded by creating a unique, eclectic inventory.

“We buy what we like,” says Hicks who loves to go antiquing to find different things. “We don’t want to have what everybody else has.”

“We want to be something out of the ordinary.  We like mixing it up,” adds Abell.  They have clearly succeeded in that regard.

A quick glance around the shop reveals – among other things - plants, jewelry, pillows, mirrors, cards, dried flower arrangements, framed prints, scarves, scented soaps, figurines, handbags, and because it’s the Christmas season, wreaths and ornaments. Imaginative decorations fill every inch of the space.

Sometimes they get asked to look for something special. Hicks says if someone makes a request, “We search for it. We can find it for them.”

In addition to finding treasures they also have suppliers, one of whom sends them things from Europe. While I was in the store two ladies bought an Indian wedding table. Along one wall was a small bathtub from Hungary. Planters, or containers as Abell and Hicks calls them, come in all shapes and sizes it seems.

Even though the shop is successful a key part of their business remains helping people to decorate their own garden spaces.

“In April and May there is a lot of planting and in November and December there is a lot of decorating,” Hicks told me.

“We love working with people, helping them create new things and come up with new ideas,” says Abell. Sometimes it’s just helping people work with what they already have.

“Sometimes it’s just bringing a new perspective to things,” says Hicks. “We’ll hang a picture or move a piece of furniture and people will say, ‘I would have never thought to put it there.’”

The two women didn’t start out as business partners.  They first met each other as soccer moms about twenty years ago. “We each had three sons and they were close in age. We sat together for twelve years watching the boys play soccer,” says Hicks.

Abell, who is originally from Lawrenceburg, lives in Frankfort now. Hicks is a Frankfort native. She remembers their shop, which is located at the corner of High Street and Broadway, was a drinking establishment when she was a child. “People come in all the time and tell us tales about Snelling’s Bar.”

To contain as many treasures as it does the space is surprisingly small. The store is only about seven hundred square feet. This means Abell and Hicks are constantly changing the inventory to accommodate new things. “People come in and they’ll say, ‘Gosh, it looks completely different from the last time we were here,’” says Hicks, urging me to come back in January.

There is an additional two hundred forty square feet of outdoor space. In the summer they use that area for classes and workshops but on the day of my visit it is a Christmas wreath staging area.

My visit to Simply Garden certainly helped me get in the seasonal mood. (I left with a Santa hat-wearing wool mouse!)  But in any season, this store is one of the destinations that make downtown Frankfort special!


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