A good move: Southern Spirit Gallery relocates to South Main
By Susan Shinn
You’d be hard pressed to find a more excited store owner than Toby Hagmaier.
Her business, Southern Spirit Gallery, opened Feb. 14 at 102 S. Main St.
Toby, who lives in Lexington, came to Salisbury for a visit, and saw it as a place for new artists.
“I think it’s because the people here support new businesses and the arts,” she says.
She’d opened a gallery by the same name in Denton three years ago.
“I thought it would grow into a tourist town, but that never happened,” says Toby, 65.
She liked what she saw in Salisbury and so she decided to move.
“It’s been a good move,” she says.
Toby represents about 60 artists at the gallery, mostly from North Carolina.
Southern Spirit is home to jewelry and paintings and glass and pottery and woodcarvings and more.
“Basically, I have the same thing in a different location, with a lot more traffic,” she says.
While she loves fine art and crafts, Toby is not an artist.
“I was put on this earth to appreciate what other people do,” she says.
Her mother, she remembers, made quilts and braided rugs.
“She always loved handmade things,” Toby says. “She passed that on to me.”
She pauses in front of one display case, which holds jewelry by Angela Salzwedel of Winston-Salem. The artist will have a bridal jewelry show at the shop on March 7.
Toby admires handmade wraps by Susan Cowan Welch of Winston-Salem, woven from soft rayon.
Scarves from several different artists hang close by.
Watercolors by local artist Janet Isenhour adorn the walls, with baskets woven by Peggy Adelman and John Wald stacked in a colorful pile.
Lewellen Padgett’s shadowboxes may also be found at the gallery.
Toby says that her inventory will be constantly changing.
“I’m always finding new people,” she says.
Some of Toby’s bestsellers so far have been the inlaid wooden boxes made by Howard Beaver of Greensboro.
Golfers or baseball players or guitars and other instruments grace their covers.
Toby’s friend Beverly Hamilton, who also lives in Lexington, will help out part-time.
Toby plans to live upstairs as soon as construction is complete on her apartment. She hopes to move in by the end of March.
Toby started work on the building last summer, but a dilemma with a sprinkler system caused delays. Ultimately, fire-retardant gypsum board was installed above the tin ceiling.
Toby’s career was in managing doctors’ and dentists’ offices, but being a business owner herself is a whole new ball game, she admits.
“The people in downtown have been so great,” Toby says.
She’s met all her new neighbors.
“Every single one of them came over to welcome me and they bought a little something,” Toby says.
She says that Pam Hylton Coffield, owner of The Stitchin Post next door, has offered “invaluable” advice.
Coffield is equally excited that Toby’s business has finally opened.
“She’s another new business that is adding charm and class to downtown,” Pam says. “I would like to have 12 more stores like hers downtown ó the more, the better!”
Toby says that Randy Hemann, director of Downtown Salisbury, Inc. “was responsible for getting me this place and talking me through the tough times.”
Toby is completing some classroom space, and plans to offer classes based on interest. Beverly will be teaching some of the classes.
She’s the crafty one. She does jewelry making and tatting and crocheting and spinning and knitting and makes cards and even “piddles in polymer.”
“I love the gallery,” says Beverly, a retired nurse. “I love all the things people do and getting to meet the artists ó they’re so unique.”
Southern Spirit Gallery is open 10 a.m. -5 p.m. Monday-Saturday. For more information, call 704-633-0761 or visit www.southernspiritgallery.com.
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