Owner eyes growth

Abbigail’s employee Merlin Gonzalez makes a local favorite at the soda fountain. (Kristy D. Carter/Sampson Independent)

The baby line of clothing and items will now be in the new part of Abbigail’s, in the old Butler’s Pharmacy location. (Kristy D. Carter/Sampson Independent)

Abbigail’s isn’t just your ordinary gift shop on the corner. Offering everything from fine China to a cold beverage to cool you down, the local icon is in the process of expanding, with the intent to satisfy their customers.

For the last year, Tina Clark has been bringing a touch of flare and elegance to Clinton, after opening Abbigail’s in the old Butler’s Gift Shoppe location. Just next door, adjoined by an open doorway, was Butler’s Pharmacy, owned and operated by Jack Waters. With Waters’ retirement, the property became available, and Clark jumped at the idea of expanding her business.

“I knew not long after we opened that I wanted to eventually expand,” Clark said.

While the drugstore has closed, Clark isn’t planning to change one feature that has been a staple in Sampson County for nearly 100 years. Butler’s has cooled the taste buds of many Sampsonians, offering an old-time soda fountain with drinks, ice cream, milkshakes and more — a tradition Clark plans to continue.

“The soda fountain is such a landmark,” Clark admitted. “We knew we wanted to keep it open and not only offer the same item, but bring back a few favorites as well.”

That’s right — fresh made orangeade and lemonade will make their comeback.

According to Clark, the expansion came out of necessity, as the back area of the gift shop was becoming cluttered and hard to manage during busy times. One of the services to the brides is holding gifts for pick-up and the back area, Clark said, was a holding area for those items. During the time of showers and weddings, that area would often be full and hard to navigate.

“We had considered going up with the expansion, but an elevator would be a big cost,” Clark said. “When Mr. Jack (Waters) talked about retiring and selling the drugstore, we knew that would be a great option for us to expand. It just made sense for us to flow to the other side.”

Clark initially purchased the gift shop after someone mentioned to her that the Waters might be interested in selling their business. With owning a retail business in the back of her mind, she and her husband, John, met with the Waters and talked with them about possibly purchasing the well-known gift shop in downtown Clinton. They opened on April 28, 2014.

Butler’s Gift Shoppe opened nearly 19 years ago by Patsy Waters and through the years built a devoted list of clientele.

It is those customers, Clark said, she wanted to make sure had all the accommodations they were accustomed to having. Abbigail’s has been known around the county and surrounding area for being the bridal registry location. Clark said she didn’t want to change that.

“We want to offer the ultimate bridal experience for our brides,” Clark said. “With the expansion, the old portion will become a complete bridal section with somewhere for us to have a consultation with the brides.”

According to Clark, she is currently offering three shopping options to better accommodate her customers, and none of that will change with the expansion changes. She said customers have the option to come into the store to do their shopping, purchase items online or give the store a call and place orders.

The Abbigail’s customers are accustomed to the China lines, Pandora, Vera Bradley, Mud Pie, Main Street Collection, Lily and Laura lines she offers. None of that will go away. In fact, with the additional space available, Clark said she plans to bring in some new products.

Clark is no stranger to owning a business. She currently owns a dance studio in Kenansville, where she still teaches dance one day a week. In addition to being a dance instructor, seven years ago Clark began teaching physical education at Harrells Christian Academy, where she still volunteers.

Abbigail’s is open Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m until 5 p.m. For more information, visit the store’s website at www.abbigails.com.