Garnet’s On The Square: Matching The Piece To The Person

By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
Glenda Legg, the new owner of Garnet’s On The Square on Jefferson Street in Athens is someone who loves to “match the piece to the person.” For people who are creative re-purposers, watching someone’s face light up with delight when they have “found it” is worth all it takes to run a store such as Garnet’s. The shop, which also has several vendors in their custom-decorated stalls, was first started by Garnet King and her husband Mike back in March of 2014. They had a good run, and the time came, however, when they just really wanted to retire, spend time with grandkids. Glenda had been one of their original vendors, and essentially Garnet and Glenda traded places. Glenda is quick to point out that she is grateful to Garnet for making the transition to shop owner so smooth.

Glenda has always been interested in decorating, and used to paint custom-designed wall murals when she was a stay-at-home mom. She has a real eye for “finds” and possesses a whimsical approach to re-purposing all kinds of items for a myriad of uses. I have found over the years that certain Athens Now customer’s shops have been a welcome haven while I have out been doing deliveries, and Garnet’s has always been that – first, with Garnet herself, and now with Glenda. “We want this to be a fun place to come and shop, as well as visit,” she said. Glenda added that she gets great pleasure seeing mothers and daughters come in to shop together, or families come in, find the perfect piece, and plan their next step toward finishing their project together.

When I talk about “matching the piece to the person,” what I mean is that over and over in the realm of home décor, decorating, antiques and re-purposing, those with a true passion for their craft will go to seemingly unreasonable ends to find just what their clients are looking for. They also love educating their clients about how life (and things) were in the “good old days.” On two occasions I have had the joy of being a participant in these impromptu “educational sessions” that are held at Garnet’s. One time was when I came into the store to deliver the paper, and saw in the window an old wire-mesh crib that had a locking lid on it. I squealed out my usual “No way!” as is my custom when something fills me with surprised joy. Then, Glenda and I giggled about what it was like to sleep in one of those things, and I told how my experience had been limited to occasionally taking naps as a three-year-old in one that belonged to the neighbor across the street. The young woman who was in the store listening to us carry on was aghast at the thought of such a piece of furniture having ever been near a child, and I can’t say that I blame her. Then, there was the time a vendor learned about TVs of old, the ones that had about 3 channels, had a horizontal and vertical button to play with when the picture went sideways or was overtaken by “snow,” and had antennas, perhaps adorned with a bit of foil to increase their power. And, of course, no “session” would be complete without a detailed discussion about what it was like to travel cross-country and take a nap up under the back windshield of one’s parent’s car, obviously before the days of car seats and seat belts.

As fun as the trips down memory lane are, what is far more important is how hard Glenda and her vendors work to keep their stalls stocked, make Garnet’s a wonderful place to shop, brainstorm, get help with a project, or have their name on the list in case someone in the store comes across what they are looking for.

There are old tools and antique signs, tractor seats turned into bar stools, lovely pieces of traditional furniture, lamps, an antique wagon, paintings, wall words, custom T-shirts, heat vinyl transfers, embroidery and monogramming, fun lighting, antique furniture, chalk paint, and milk paint. The chalk paint is made by General Finishes, and Garnet’s is one of the few shops in our area who carries it.

Glenda loves to help people realize their decorating dreams. If people are not do-it-yourselfers, for a fee she will paint and distress furniture for her clients. If people are do-it-yourselfers, Glenda will get right in there and consult with them as they plan their project. No matter which you are, come to Garnet’s and watch Glenda carry out her credo, which is, “honor the past, and give something a new life.”
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner