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New store in Main Street Market offers handmade, eclectic home goods
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A upcycled shirt hangs from the rack at southErn grace's booth at Art on the Square in Gainesville. The boutique has custom furniture, handmade home decor items and rehabbed clothing. - photo by Erin O. Smith

southErn grace

Where: 118 Main St. SW, Gainesville square

Phone: 706-892-6775

Facebook: www.facebook.com/southerngracecouture

Leigh Anne Finley started painting and refinishing furniture years ago.

Today, she has a boutique in Main Street Market full of just a few of her many finished projects.

The store, called “southErn grace,” opened Aug. 10 upstairs in the market, located at 118 Main St. SW on the downtown Gainesville square.

“I’ve been doing this forever,” Finley said. “Not as a store, but in my own home, and I’ve done festivals, had booths, sold from my house, whatever.”

The store has much more than refinished furniture, however. Finley recycles various textiles to make home decor items including pillowcases, lamp shades, window treatments and more.

Everything in the store is for sale, including the furniture upon which items are displayed.

In the center of the eclectic space is a clothing rack with tanks, T-shirts, tops and more that Finley updated herself.

“I don’t like the same old thing you see everywhere, and I don’t want to look like everybody else.,” she said. “I never used to want to be different and stand out, but as I got older, that’s what I want. I have to be different.”

Some of the clothes were created by Finley and her friend, Tracey Whitmire, who also refinishes items with her company “Burlap and Boots.” The two call themselves the Junkin’ Sisters.

Part of the inspiration to “rehab” and resell clothing is to create something for women who don’t fit a societal norm, Finley said.

“I go to all these stores and I see all these cute clothes for girls and women like this,” Finley said, holding up a straight, slim finger. “I can’t wear that, because I have football player shoulders and a body that doesn’t fit into that stuff. So I like to find things, like men’s shirts, and make, say, a strapless dress out of them.”

Most of her stuff has crochet on it, and many of the home decor items are actually made from pieces of clothing, including her pillowcases and slipcovers.

Finley also stocks jewelry, some handmade by her and some earrings handmade by a friend and coworker.

She also works three days a week as an emergency department nurse at Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville, and she lives on an old family farm in Cleveland with her two daughters.

Her daughters, Grace, 16, and Emmie, 11, helped her come up with the store name, and both of their names are represented in it. The “E” in southErn is capitalized for Emmie.

Finley said southErn grace’s hours vary slightly depending on her work at the hospital, but it is open most Wednesdays and all Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Her biggest goal for southErn grace would be to develop enough of a following to hold an annual weekend festival on her farm in Cleveland. She would do a preview night, dinner and bring in exclusive vendors from the area.

Finley said she was inspired to take the leap and start the business after she and Whitmire gained a following at various festivals.

“We’re not like everybody else,” she said. “Other people are producing six, 10 pieces of furniture a day, but I by no means want to do that. The piece has to speak to me, and we’re both that way. Each piece I think is art.”

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