On a recent Sunday afternoon, Tiffany Fatheree and Alison Sorley surveyed the “mess” that was the first-floor showroom at The Findery.
The burgeoning business in the old Percy Medicine building was closed, but there was a lot of activity inside as they and several others worked to “re-stage” the look of the floor before opening on Monday.
The first day of the workweek isn’t normally a great day for retail businesses, said Tiffany, one of the co-owners. But with Magnolia Market at the Silos open on Mondays and its seemingly nonstop stream of visitors, that’s not the case.
“We’re blessed to be here with Magnolia close by,” Tiffany said.
When The Findery opened in November 2015, it followed a lot of other retail businesses that were open on Saturdays by closing Sunday and Monday.
But Tiffany recalled one cold Monday when they were working on staging parts of the store to open for the next day and she kept seeing lots of people stopping and peering through the front doors to get a look inside.
“I realized that we just had to be open on Mondays,” she said.
And Mondays remain one of The Findery’s busier days, she added.
Alison, a Midway High School graduate and Waco native, is the store manager. She has a marketing background and also owns Elevate, one of six vendors that operate within the building.
She and Tiffany are quick to give credit to Magnolia’s Chip and Joanna Gaines, who have put such a positive spin on the city with their “Fixer Upper” show on HGTV.
“It is so neat to see the changes. Waco is now on the map as a travel destination,” Alison said.
The Findery sees that first-hand. Tiffany estimates that 70-75 percent of their customers are from out of state, brought to downtown initially to visit Magnolia.
Coming from Afar
Tiffany and Alison’s partnership and friendship began six years ago when Alison worked for Tiffany at Jute, one of the retail shops in Spice Village. They shared stories about the amazing business they have had at The Findery.
One couple drove to Waco from Ontario, Canada, Alison said. They stayed in Waco for four days, stuffing their van with items to decorate their home back north.
One couple flew from Singapore to visit Magnolia and then came to The Findery, they said. That’s the farthest distance they are aware of, Alison said.
But they have story after story of shoppers who flew to Waco, loved what The Findery had, and then canceled their return flight and bought so much stuff they had to rent a Suburban or U-Haul to take it home with them.
“I just can’t believe it sometimes,” Tiffany said.
Some are regular customers who visit every six weeks or so to see what’s new, Alison said, so they are continually looking at new and different products to have in the store.
“We like to have an interesting variety of inventory,” Tiffany said.
Even celebrities, from soap opera stars to fashion bloggers that they recognize from following their Twitter accounts, have stopped in, Alison said.
But they respect their space and let them maintain a low profile while shopping, Alison said. And none of the other shoppers bother them, either, she said.
They also joke that the Waco Chamber of Commerce might want to set up a kiosk in the building. There are so many out-of-town visitors that they routinely are asked for recommendations, whether it’s for retail items that they don’t carry or for good restaurants.
“We’re happy to help with that,” Tiffany said. “I think it’s great that everyone can support each other.”
They also can hand out The Findery Flyer, a map of other businesses and attractions in the downtown area that visitors might want to experience.
It was created by Shelby Pipken with Four Columns Marketing, which does the website, social media promotions and other marketing of The Findery and its shops.
Six people own The Findery: Tiffany Fatheree and her husband, Matt; his parents, Matt and Melissa Fatheree; and Marci and Kyle Davis. Under the roof are six vendors, including Jute, owned by Tiffany, and Elevate, which is owned by Alison.
Tiffany said she had been looking to expand her shop beyond its location in Spice Village.
“I wanted something bigger and close to (Interstate 35),” she said.
Before it was listed, she had heard that the venerable Percy Medicine building was going on the market.
“We walked in, and yeah, it was dusty and old,” she recalled. “But we saw the potential. I just felt it. This is where we were supposed to be.”
The price was more than she was comfortable with, so she enlisted the other owners.
It has been a whirlwind since, she said.
While the jewelry, home decor and clothes inside are draws for the women, the turn-of-the-20th-century building itself can bring in the male visitors.
“We’ll have older men come in and say, ‘I took Baby Percy’ when I was a kid,’ Alison said. “We had a visitor from the Carolinas come in, look around, and say, ‘I want to live here.’ ”
The business’ website introduces Tiffany as the creative visionary of the business, and Alison can attest to that.
“Our goal is to set our own trends,” Tiffany said. She is constantly dreaming bigger, saying she would love to have a greenhouse on site and have fresh flowers available one day.
But first and foremost, she wants to be there to help the customer, she said.
“For me, this is all about serving people,” she said. “We help them find the things that they want to put in their homes. I really think what I do is helping people and making their days better.”
Customers tell them that they love the styles and options available for decorating their homes or clothes and jewelry to wear, Tiffany said.
But Tiffany is equally quick to point out how Alison’s attention to the details keeps things running smoothly.
“I don’t think I could do this without Alison,” Tiffany said.
Ready to Help
Alison is the go-to person for customers with questions, even if they aren’t in the store.
She often has her iPad or smartphone in hand, answering emails or text or engaging customers via Facebook or Instagram.
She’s given customers options for decorating their homes by looking at emailed or texted photos of a room and suggesting items for the decor.
“For me, it’s” ‘What does that item do for a real person?’ Maybe it looks great, but is it functional?” she said.
They also excel at gift baskets, Alison said.
“We have so many different price points that we can put together something great,” she said.
While Tiffany is thrilled with all the business that comes from out of town to The Findery, she happy to play a part in something that she believes benefits all of Waco.
“I think it’s also good for Wacoans,” she said. “They don’t have to make the trips to Dallas or Austin because things are here at The Findery now.”
501 S. Eighth St.
Mon-Sat, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.