After nearly two decades of operation, the Braselton Antique Mall is closing shop inside the historic Braselton Brothers Department Store.
The store was owned by Robbie Bettis, who died April 13.
Jennifer Scott, Braselton town manager, said Bettis’ store was the catalyst for growing the downtown in the early 2000s.
“It was one of the first businesses that moved in when we started our revitalization,” she said. “I’m sad because she was the first one to take a chance on our downtown knowing that it would get better.”
Amy Pinnell, Braselton Main Street manager and downtown director, said Bettis was also instrumental in starting the antique festivals in town. Between her store and the events, she said the business owner helped put Braselton on the map for antique shoppers and dealers.
"If you look at a lot of different downtowns, it just takes that one person to have a vision and have the guts and faith to step out and say, ‘I’m going to do this,’” Pinnell said. “Robbie was that for us.”
Pinnell said many people in Braselton describe the antique mall as the anchor for downtown.
The store will remain open the next couple of weeks for people to purchase its inventory. Pinnell said Bettis’ husband, Fred, found it too difficult to carry on the shop by himself. He runs a lamp repair business, which is connected to the antique store, and plans to move it to his residence in Hoschton.
Since Bettis died, Pinnell said many people have come to visit the shop and reminisce before it closes. For her, she said the change has been “very dramatic.”
“Now seeing the store empty out, you kind of feel her spirit in there,” she said. “I’m not sure I’m ready to let that go.”
The building that houses the antique store is the fourth location of the Braselton Brothers Department Stores and opened in 1904, Pinnell said.
As a piece of Braselton history leaves the town, the cycle will begin anew. Like when Bettis set up shop in 2003, Pinnell said another owner will one day liven the downtown with new business.
“Robbie’s legacy — we won’t forget that,” she said. “Somebody else will come along, and I think that will make Robbie happy. I think that will be the next step.”
The Braselton Antique Mall is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. It is located at 9924 Davis St. in downtown Braselton.
For closing updates and hour changes, visit the Downtown Braselton Facebook page