Alex Swearingen is bringing her passion for art and her love for her hometown of Swansea to the small town’s business district.
Her forthcoming retail shop, 335 West Third, is a market set to feature an array of vendors from the Swansea area and neighboring towns, including art from Swearingen herself. The store will be open Wednesday through Saturday in addition to offering select evenings, paint nights, art classes and birthday parties.
The grand opening celebration is set for June 11.
The 1,400-square-foot building had previously been vacant for many years, according to the town.
While sparse, Swansea’s downtown contains some businesses, including a florist, a handful of restaurants, a Dollar General, a small grocery store and an antiques store. There is also the town hall and public safety services.
Swansea Mayor Viola McDaniel said she looks forward to having 335 West Third open.
Swearingen hopes her business will help bring new life to Swansea’s town center. She’s a lifelong resident of the town, where she and her husband, also from Swansea, are raising their family.
She said the building was in great shape structurally. Swearingen just needed to do some cosmetic work, including painting and refinishing the store. She painted brush strokes all over the floor, she said.
Swearingen is finishing up teaching at Dover Elementary School in North at the end of this school year. She then plans on taking on her retail business full time, which will also allow her to spend time with her baby.
“There’s not a lot of stores here and the talent is definitely here,” she said.
Swearingen’s shop will feature more than 20 vendors who rent a space to feature their products. All of the vendors live within 30 miles of the Swansea area. She brought in the vendors through family and friends and through word of mouth.
The goods offered will include embroidery, clothing, jewelry, accessories, succulents and handmade wooden benches and furniture.
Swearingen’s dream of having her own store was planted when her art was featured at a store in Ridgespring. She started thinking about the idea in the summer of 2020 and called the real estate agent for the building. It came available in 2021, and she purchased it.
“It’s a little intimidating at times but I’ve been encouraged by the local community,” Swearingen said. “People are excited about this.”
Swearingen has had a lot of help from family, friends and especially her husband. If it weren’t for having support from so many people, she doesn’t think the store would be possible. Perhaps owning a business runs in her blood, as her great-great-grandpa had his own business just down the road.
Her sister-in-law, Emily Sawyer, was her first vendor to come onboard and a huge support, Swearingen said. Sawyer’s business, Flippity Hop Embroidery, features clothing for children.
“I’m so excited for this,” Sawyer said. “It’s nice to have something local.”
Another vendor, Crafty Cottage DIY, came to Swearingen through word of mouth. Bryan and Joanne Wick are a husband-and-wife duo from Gaston. They feature an array of handmade items that are laser wood cutouts and acrylics.
“I’ve been telling my husband for months I wish we had this in [our] smaller town. When I heard about this, I jumped at the idea,” Joanne said.
The Wicks are also going to help out with paint nights at the store.
335 West Third, which will sit at its titular address, will be open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. Updates and information can be found on Facebook and Instagram at 335 West Third LLC.
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