SHOP TALK is a weekly column featuring locally owned and operated businesses. This week, we talk to Anne Hall and Jennifer Stewart, owners of Line Drives and Lipstick in Cooperstown.
How long have you lived in the area?
AH: I’m native to Cooperstown.
JNS: I might as well be.
My family is all from here.
I wasn’t born here, but I grew up here.
Tell me about your business:
AH: We renamed ourselves from Cooperstown Baseball Bracelet to Line Drives and Lipstick and moved into this space a year ago, and started the Cooperstown Baseball Bracelet six years ago.
We decided sitting on the bench, we thought how there really was nothing in Cooperstown for women who loved baseball and that’s why we started the Baseball Bracelet. One thing led to another, and before we knew it, we had a prototype of the bracelet.
This all started around the bracelet, and everything else came along.
JNS: We hold a U.S. patent on the actual cast and design pattern of the ball and bracelet.
AH: It’s exclusive to here. Before we moved in here (to Main Street) is when we had our little store on Pioneer Street. ...
We added small amounts of accessories to fill the store.
JNS: We’ve always had bags, and we’ve tried to pick products that are affordable and trendy. But the bracelet is the priority.
We make sure it’s the highest grade of silver.
We try to purchase and sell products that fit that mold, with a higher quality and a higher standard, and that you can’t just get anywhere. Cooperstown is a place where you can get the same thing in every store over and over down Main Street. We’ve tried to modify the store so we’re not just like everyone else.
How did you get started in this line of work?
AH: I have a full-time job in finance, and it was just kind of a “Hey, what do you think about this idea?” With my business background and her design background (Stewart is a graphic designer), it’s a nice mix.
JNS: It’s a very yin and yang operation. ... A lot of this was spawned by where we live and that there’s nothing stylish for women to buy that was meaningful and created a memory for women to walk away with. We also both have kids who play.
Anne has a daughter, and I have a son who were born on the same day, and they both play baseball.
What have you learned from your work?
AH: We aren’t in the jewelry industry, and there’s a lot to learn in the jewelry industry. ... The metals market is incredibly volatile, and that’s been a challenge. Because you don’t want to sacrifice the quality of your product, but you want to have a product that is still affordable.
What is the most challenging part of what you do?
AH: It is challenging not being owner-occupied.
We work full-time. We have very busy families.
So we’ve been fortuntate to have a really great staff. They’re people we trust and who believe in our product and do great things for us while we’re not here. We try to be here as much as we can, but there are not enough hours in the day.
JNS: The staff is very important.
And most of them are our friends.
AH: Everyone takes a bit of ownership. Without them we wouldn’t be here.
The most enjoyable?
AH: I think it’s nice just to know on a whim that we decided to do this and we were able to take this idea that we had and bring it to a reality. It was incredibly rewarding. We couldn’t have done it without the support of a lot of friends, and fellow business owners lending a hand and offering advice.
JNS: We have a very strong friendship. We had children on the same day, but we knew each other before that. We’re like family. Our families are like family. That’s a uniting force when you’re working together. We’ve worked really well with each other. We have a really good, honest friendship.
What are some advantages as well as drawbacks of doing business in this area?
AH: I think an advantage for me, and I think for both of us, is the satisfaction of having a successful business on Main Street in Cooperstown. As you can see walking up and down the street, there are a lot of empty storefronts. Growing up in the area and having a father who owned a business on Main Street, being a part of the community is very important. ... It’s a challenge in the summertime to do business with locals, because locals have a tendency to steer away from coming downtown because it is so busy and parking is an issue. We do have a nice clientele of locals who will come in on their lunch hours, stop in and buy gifts and things like that.
JNS: Many local women have the Baseball Bracelet and Hall of Fame wives.
It’s become the thing to have. They’re all holding their wrists up (referring to the women in a knitting group that meets regularly at the store, which recently started carrying yarn.)
SHOP TALK INTERVIEWS are conducted by Cassandra Miller. For information, call The Daily Star at 432-1000, ext. 255, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.