‘Be who you want to be’: New owner of Heart and Oak will keep store going with personal touch

Published 12:02 am Sunday, March 27, 2022

SALISBURY — It didn’t take long for Katie March to make up her mind.

Scrolling through her Facebook feed one morning earlier this month, March saw a post for a closing sale at Heart & Oak, a vintage furniture and clothing store in downtown Salisbury. The owner of the shop, Sarah Mini, announced she was closing the brick and mortar operation after back problems limited her ability to operate it how she wanted.

“I couldn’t move my stock around or change up my displays, which was one of my favorite aspects of being a shop owner besides being with the clients,” Mini said.

March nearly kept scrolling past the post, but lingered on it for a moment.

“Something told me to ask about the store space,” March said.

March doesn’t give much credence to coincidences.

“I’m a strong believer that when things are put in your path, it’s meant to happen,” March said.

Within a few hours, March found herself driving from Kannapolis to visit the store at 106 E. Innes St. in Salisbury. The space, with airy front windows that invite in the afternoon sun, lived up to the dreamy online photos.

“The windows are incredible,” March said. “You don’t have to turn the lights on during the day.”

Without much of a second thought, March made an offer to purchase the business. Now, she’s putting her own clothing, decor and more in those storefront windows with plans to reopen the shop to the public next month.

Mini said she is excited to see what March has in store.

“Her desire for pouring into clients and being a shining spot in town is one of the many reasons that I am so glad she came on the scene,” Mini said.

March decided to go all in on Heart and Oak a week before her one year sobriety date. March, who left home at the age of 15, says she was a functioning alcoholic for more than two decades. Getting sober was a challenging, but a rewarding necessity.

“I celebrate that,” March said.

The process was also revealing. Last year, March was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, a condition on the autism spectrum that makes it easy for her to be overstimulated. Noise canceling headphones almost always on her ears or dangling from her neck help March block out the outside world and concentrate. They’re especially helpful with the traffic constantly buzzing around downtown.

As a result of those personal experiences, March said she wants Heart and Oak to be a space that’s welcoming to everybody.

“It’s a safe space for everybody, all the letters and all the colors of the flag, all of it,” March said. “It’s a completely safe place for you to come and be who you are, be who you want to be.”

March doesn’t want Heart and Oak to be a place where people only come to shop. She’s in the process of turning the store’s loft into a rentable workspace with tables, a printer, coffee and tea.

“Sometimes you just need a quiet space to finish a paper, to write emails, to do Zooms, to get out of the house,” March said. “Upstairs is going to be a communal art and work space.”

There will be plenty to buy, though.

“It’s going to be everything I love to do in one place: I love to thrift and I love crystals and I love plants,” March said.

March, who has experience in online retail, has spent the past several weeks moving inventory from her garage and her booth at the Marketplace in Kannapolis to the store in downtown Salisbury.

In addition to items she’s collected, March said she wants to empower local female vendors by selling a variety of products from women business owners, like soap from Charlotte-based Annie Mae and Ivy and items from Kannapolis-based Glam and Rust Boutique.

Heart and Oak will host a meet and greet soft opening on April 9 and 10 from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. March said the plan is to open the store to the general public soon after.

“There is so much I want to see here and I think it’ll be a constant work in progress for a while until it’s exactly the way I envision it,” March said.

More information about Heart and Oak can be found online on the shop’s Facebook page or by emailing heartandoakhome@gmail.com.

As for Mini, she’ll continue to sell vintage without the brick and mortar from her Instagram account @thecarriagehouse.co.

About Ben Stansell

Ben Stansell covers business, county government and more for the Salisbury Post. He joined the staff in August 2020 after graduating from the University of Alabama. Email him at ben.stansell@salisburypost.com.

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