The Transylvania Times -

White Squirrel Shoppe Changing, Number 7 Moving – Brevard NC

 

Number 7 Gallery.(Courtesy photo )

The White Squirrel Shoppe is closing in its current form after 28 years in business in downtown Brevard. Donna Stout, the owner, said that she has been forced out of the retail space by a near doubling of her rent.

Her decision to close was also influenced by her children, who have been telling her that she needs to slow down, but the increase in her rent was the main factor.

"They have been trying to get me to simplify," said Stout. "My body is 80, but my mind is still 21. I have been very fortunate to sell the name of the shop and all its trademarks. I was over the moon because the store will be able to continue."

The shop started in the space that is now occupied by Jordan Street Café, where the store was open for two years before the space on the corner of Broad and Main became available.

"I invested $50,000 of my own money in that space," said Stout, who was the 2014 Entrepreneur Woman of Western North Carolina.

"I enclosed the two back porches, and up-fitted the space with bathrooms when there were none.

"It seems to me there a lot of changes around Brevard. It looks to me like loyalty is being replaced with greed."

The store will remain open in a different fashion, with a smaller retail space located inside the new tenant's business, Number 7 Arts gallery.

An out-of-state investor and a county resident have partnered to run the space.

Renovations on the space will start Nov. 1, with plans to open the gallery the first of the year.

Number 7 Arts opened in 1999 after the Transylvania Arts Council decided they wanted to keep "the arts" on Main Street.

This was during a time when there were only two frame shops in town.

Number 7 is a co-op, where everyone involved in the gallery works a shift or two, so that there is a sense of ownership instilled in each artist.

Gallery manager Joe Bruneau said that interest in the arts community has helped Number 7 become not only a destination arts gallery but has also helped jump start the careers of more than a few artists.

"We want to do the community proud," said Bruneau. "We want them to know they have done something hand in hand to make Brevard an art destination. We started a huge fundraising campaign about two weeks ago, asking folks to donate whatever they can to be able to help fund and create this space, not just for Number 7, but for the community in general."

Number 7 originally started with 16 artists, and is Brevard's oldest art gallery. When the new space opens, it will have more space, allowing for more artists.

Applications are available at the current Number 7 location on East Main Street.

Lucy Clark, a potter and Number 7 member, said they are looking to take on six to 10 more artists.

"We're encouraging any of the visual artists out there - painters, sculptors, any visual arts," she said. "There are a lot of items that we do not represent in the gallery like sculpture, glass and some wood artists. We have applications available at the gallery if they are interested. It's a juried process and each artist will go through an interview process."

Clark said one of the good things about a co-op is that all of the artists work a few shifts in town, so people have the time to come in and meet the artists.

"Often they will bring in a piece they are working on so people can see them working," she said. "We want to have a weekly artist demonstrating their craft, showing folks what is involved in creating a piece of art. We are the only gallery in town doing that. It brings a personal connection from the art to the artist to the collector."

Donna Stout is adjusting to the changes at the White Squirrel Shoppe in downtown Brevard. (Courtesy photo)

Co-op members are going to attempt to bring back the historical charm of the space in the McMinn building, which is owned by an Atlanta resident.

The McMinn building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1994.

Plans to expose the building's old brick walls, the tin ceiling and the hardwood floors are being drawn, and members of the co-op will do nearly all of the renovations.

Stout said she is just glad that the space is not going to a real estate or attorney's office.

"I could have closed my doors 100 times in the last 28 years," she said. "Retail is rotten anymore. But it was a labor of love. Life goes on."

To learn more about the Number 7 Arts gallery, visit http://www.number7arts.org, or call the gallery at (828) 883-2294.

 
 

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