Prospective and current students, parents and Chapel Hill residents passing the corner of Franklin and Columbia streets will soon find vacant the large window space formerly boasted by the Ackland Museum Store. But to find the stationery and assorted art-tinged gifts they’ve come to expect at the Ackland Museum Store, they won’t have to look far.
The Ackland Museum Store, which closed Jan. 10, is making preparations to reopen their doors on Jan. 21, taking a small step across the road and settling next to the FRANK Gallery, occupying the space at 109 E. Franklin St. formerly held by the Clothing Warehouse.
FRANK gallery manager Torey Mishoe said though day-to-day operations in her gallery won’t change drastically, the concentration of art-minded stores on Franklin is an exciting development.
“I think the arts are really critical to most towns and downtowns, so I think putting us and the Ackland Store together right here, and with Creative Metalsmiths on the other side of them, it brings the arts together in one place,” Mishoe said. “It allows people to have a one-stop shop for the arts.”
Alice Southwick, Ackland Museum Store manager, spent Monday packing up her store’s impressive selection of gifts, art pieces and trinkets to accommodate the impending transition.
Southwick said though she’ll miss the open spaces, natural lighting and cherished memories of the corner store, she believes the store’s mentality and customer base will persevere on the other side of downtown Chapel Hill’s main drag.
“When you build something, it’s not so much the physical entity — it’s the idea of it that matters and building your following,” Southwick said. “We feel like we have really loyal customers, and if you’re anywhere on Franklin or just visiting for the first time, you’ll find us.”
Southwick said on a typical day she finds her store populated by students, teachers, University employees and those who simply want to stop in and take a look around. Some come to purchase gifts during the holiday season; others patronize the store to support the museum; still others roam the store merely to admire the gathered collection.
Despite its diverse following, the store gets a significant portion of the business from regulars, especially Ackland Art Museum members, who receive perks at the store.
One such fan is Laurie Mesibov, a Chapel Hill resident working at the University Ombuds Office, who frequently finds herself at the store for gifts, small treasures and occasionally the culmination of a walk across town. Whatever she desires, she said she’s always sure to check Ackland.
“Ackland is a nice shopping experience, and I can always find whatever I need — whether it’s a greeting card, a wedding gift or something for a grandchild,” Mesibov said.
“The people are friendly, and I like to support the Ackland Museum.”
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