Patricia’s on the Square has called Collierville home for nearly a quarter century and there is a good reason why.
Owner Patricia Ashworth, who’s namesake shop was recently voted the 2019 Readers’ Choice Business of the Year, knows how to adapt.
In 1995, the Henderson, Tenn. native opened an antique shop on the town’s Historic Town Square. However, by 2003 she realized the need for an upscale specialty store for women in children.
So, she bought the space next door and expanded the store, which is now 3,500 square feet and sells home decor items, women and children’s clothing, jewelry and much more.
Ashworth, who moved to Collierville in 1986, began renting the space at 110 E. Mulberry Street (now Brooks Collection) in 1995 to sell antiques.
“I had filled my house,” she said of her vintage 19th century cherry and walnut collection, “but the thrill was in looking for the stuff and traveling across the country. So, I started the antique business.”
In 1999, Ashworth had the opportunity to purchase the building at 124 E. Mulberry, which is Patricia’s current location.
She used inheritance money from her mother to make the purchase.
“I had saved the money and wanted to do something special with it,” she noted.
Inside the new storefront she began selling gift items, new furniture and clothing.
“I evolved,” she said. “I’ve had to change with the times. When antiques fizzled out I began to sell new furniture. Then that quit. I began selling really nice decorative things. Now, everyone is into Joanna Gaines. I am adapting the best I can.”
Patricia’s now offers two pottery lines but the bulk of the store’s sales come from ladies wear and jewelry.
“I’ve done well with ladies clothing and we have a lot of wonderful customers who keep coming back,” she noted. “Giftware has also picked up.”
Ashworth, a mother of three, said she primarily sells clothes that appeal to women between the ages of 40-to-80.
“Other stores cater to 20 year olds,” she said.
Ashworth, a former flight attendant and realtor, started a bridal registry and children’s boutique shortly after expanding the shop in 2003.
While the children’s boutique has been a success, the bridal registry “didn’t go over well.”
“I went into it buying Waterford and a lot of fine china,” she remembered, “and the young ladies didn’t want that. They didn’t want fine crystal because they were going to inherit their mother’s and grandmother’s. They didn’t need it.”
So, Ashworth doubled down on what her loyal patrons desire.
“Ladies are always going to buy nice clothes and nice jewelry,” she said laughing.
When asked what drew her to the Square, Ashworth said that she and her late husband, John, enjoyed the “small town atmosphere.”
“I grew up in a small town. Who doesn’t fall in love with the Square. The Lord blessed me with a good husband,” she said of John, who was a home builder and developer. “When a building would become available he would buy it because he wanted what was best for the Square.”
Ashworth said the Town of Collierville and groups like Main Street Collierville have helped the downtown area thrive over the years.
“Collierville does a lot to bring the community together on the Square and it does a great job of keeping it pretty,” she said. “This is where residents come to bring their out-of-town relatives and friends when they come to visit.
“Realtors often tell me,” she continued, “when they have a customer who is interested in buying in Collierville, they bring them to the Square and that is what sells them.”
Along with her ability to adapt, Ashworth’s longevity can also be attributed to her ability to predict market trends. She attends buyer’s markets four times a year and must often foresee styles several months in advance.
She is also grateful for her staff of four.
“I have been blessed from day one with fantastic employees,” she said smiling.
And while Ashworth has adapted to many changes over the years, she does worry that online sales could be the biggest hurdle for retail shops on the Square and elsewhere in the town.
“I’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go,” she said. “What is killing these businesses is people buying online. If everybody buys online, all of the mom-and-pop stores are going to go out of business.
Ashworth, who recently moved into a house less than two blocks from the Square, noted that the benefits to shopping face-to-face are abundant.
“You can try on clothes, and touch, and smell, and see things,” she said. “You can have someone tell you about the items. It isn’t just a picture online.”
Despite her apprehensions regarding online shopping, Ashworth is optimistic that retail commerce will find a way to survive.
“Times are changing and I’ve always had to change with the times,” she noted. “As long as I have my health, I know that I am going to keep doing this.”