By Jessica Borders
Times West Virginian
Bill and Janet Lewis started their Fairmont business as a way to help people.
Their store, called Bill and Janet’s Hope Chest, is brand new. It just opened for business on Friday, Dec. 7, at 614 Gaston Ave., across from Fairmont Veterinary Hospital. A dollar from the first customer who stopped by that morning is mounted on the wall.
“We have about everything,” Janet said.
The shop carries a variety of antiques, furniture, vintage dishes, toys, clothes, jewelry and much more – both brand new and used. Customers can find an array of Christmas decorations, including wreaths made by Janet and her daughter Kacie Cunningham, who helps run the business. Holiday gift baskets are also available.
The family is planning to bring in new items every single weekend to keep their inventory fresh. The majority of the store’s merchandise comes from auctions.
Janet said she’s wanted to have her own shop since she was a little girl. Her father, the Rev. Richard Fluharty, has always loved auctions and is the person who got Bill and Janet interested in going to auctions themselves, which led to their business.
“He inspired it,” Janet said.
She said everything has seemed to fall into place for them as they have been buying inventory, which they believe is the Lord at work.
“All this is because of Jesus Christ,” Bill said.
He said that he and Janet want to help people as Christians, and they’re working to do that by buying and selling items at cheaper prices. Janet added that with the current state of the economy, their goal is to provide merchandise that families can afford, especially at Christmas time.
Janet, a Farmington native, has worked to take care of mentally and physically challenged people for 12 years. Bill, who is originally from Fairview, is self-employed and has owned his company, Mobile Home Services, for 25 years. The couple now lives in Rivesville.
The building on Gaston Avenue was the home of North Pole Ice for a long time, but had been empty for about the last four years. When Bill and Janet saw the space was for sale, they felt it would fit their needs.
A total remodel was required to transform the place into Bill and Janet’s Hope Chest. After six weeks of renovations, the store now has a new furnace, ceiling and lighting and has been painted.
“It’s been a lot of work,” Janet said.
She said all of the time and effort spent getting the business ready will be worth it so they can give people a helping hand. The business’ name, Bill and Janet’s Hope Chest, reflects the idea that they’re trying to bring hope to individuals who need something and cheer them up if they’re going through difficulties in their lives.
This month, customers can put their names in a box for the chance to win a ham before Christmas, and Santa Claus is scheduled to visit with kids at the store sometime soon. The business plans to sporadically offer giveaways and special attractions like these.
As for future happenings, a few part-time employees will be joining the store. Also, Janet and Kacie are in the process of getting their food handler’s cards so they can offer baked goods, and vendors will eventually be able to rent space in the shop.
The family welcomes people to stop by Bill and Janet’s Hope Chest, which is open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
Email Jessica Borders at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @JBordersTWV.