Small Town Charm opened its doors in Nolensville more than seven years ago. Ilse Fitzsimmons, who owns the shop with her daughter Sammy, hails from South Africa, picked Nolensville because she and her husband, Jim, love Nolensville’s small town character.
Anyone visiting Small Town Charm for the first time cannot help but notice the store is filled with interesting and desirable items that are likely to appeal to a wide variety of tastes. There are European candles with fragrances from the French Riviera, pewter cups made in Italy and a line of fashionable lady’s handbags just for starters. They also carry baby clothes, including very popular matching outfits for mother and baby, toys, stuffed animals and books.
“My wife has a great eye for these types of products,” Jim Fitzsimmons said. As a former flight attendant for United, she’s been all over the world.” Where do they find their products? “Sammy does a lot of research. That combined with the fact that they both have great instincts has made it possible for us to do very well in terms of satisfying the needs of our customers,” he added.
Ilse and Sammy attend the Go to America Mart in Atlanta, which is filled with gift and other items. “They have a week-long show twice a year. We also shop in Las Vegas,” Ilse said. “We have actually done very well. Several times we have purchased items before they made Oprah’s Favorite List.” Do they ever buy something that isn’t quite the hit with customers they expected? “Not often, but when it happens, I discount the item heavily and it sells."
What’s their busiest time of year? It’s not surprising to learn that the Christmas season is their busiest time. “We offer so many unique gift items and some beautiful ornaments. Our customers seem pleased,” Jim said. Like many small businesses, one of the key challenges Small Town Charm faces is letting people in the area know what they offer. “People come in and browse and hopefully find something they like,” Ilse said. “Sometimes I wish they knew what it takes to run a store like ours. There is a great deal of administrative work and keeping shelves stocked and looking attractive is also time consuming. You have to love a business like ours to succeed. Fortunately, we do.”
Small Town Charm did have an unwelcome visitor around midnight on Nov. 20 of this year, when a driver plowed his truck into their front window doing enormous damage to the store. “There was glass everywhere!” Ilse said. “We lost a lot of merchandise.” As difficult as it was to deal with the losses and the time consuming and difficult cleanup, there was a silver lining. “We were thrilled and gratified by the response from the Nolensville community. Customers called to check on us. Other business owners stepped in to help us put the store back together, including their neighbor, Amanda, the owner of Threadzz Boutique. And, Nolensville High School student, Mary Kent painted angel wings on the board that covered the missing window. “The business community is very supportive of each other in Nolensville. We are firm believers in shopping local.”
“We saw the best evidence of the real meaning of Christmas,” Jim pointed out. “We feel no animosity toward the driver of the truck, we just focused hard on getting everything back in order.”
Small Town Charm is open every day but Sunday. Their hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. most days.