- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 5 Nov 2006.
Unless you've looked closely you may not have noticed Deb's wonderful and fashionable clothing shop wedged between the Men's Den and Jeannie's sewing in the newly-renovated Bullard building. I walked in and found Debbie Johnson among an assortment of sophisticated and fashionable clothing that she chose for the shop. Deb's at 236 East Broadway opened in March and was her dream every since she worked as a young woman at Cato's just around the corner. Years ago, Bill's warehouse was the fashion statement in Newport thanks to Bill Parrott. The closing left a vacuum that Deb is trying to fill with such names as Nally & Millie, Lynn Ritchie, Maxandcleo, and Morgan Cole. "I have nice cloths, good prices-designer cloths without the price," she said. The building has changed dramatically since the time of the Coffee Pot Restaurant. You can still see a circle in the tile floor that was the base of a stool from 40 years ago. You know her husband, the ever-smiling Mike Johnson, who is a consummate builder and all-around nice guy from Parrottsville. He married the city girl about 14 years ago. I knew little about Deb and she told me that her parents were Jim and Catherine Hillard. Well, Jim was a long-time friend of mine. He retired from Detroit Gasket. Catherine (Haynes) was a beautician and worked at Brownie's, which was upstairs just above where Deb's shop is located. That was during the 1960s. Later, Catherine worked for Jean Haynes, her sister-in-law, at Cut & Curl. Deb made the connection that her mother was Lloyd Haynes's sister. Lloyd is a fellow I've known forever, it seems, as the friendly TV repairman in our hometown. His shop is at the Bryant Center off Cosby Highway and he is recuperating nicely after heart bypass surgery in recent months. Visiting Deb's is a real treat. You can park in back now and there is outside lighting, too. At nighttime inner lights reveal well-designed showcase windows. She is pleased that people are finding out about her shop and not having to leave Newport to find elegant clothing. Of course, her daughter, Miranda Alvey, a freshman at Walter's State, is glad her Mom is in retail sales. You may know Deb's younger sister, Sandy Childress, who now lives at Tellico Plains and has two daughters from her former marriage to Tom Inman. Deb is proud of her upbringing in town and glad to invest in Newport in a business that just fits her personality and our town. While we were chatting, a small smartly dressed woman with heavy European accent came in the door. She was Lene Henderson. A German by birth, she has lived many years in Tennessee and is married to retired truck driver L. G. Henderson. I learned as we spoke he was to have surgery for a tumor at Vanderbilt Hospital. For some interesting chat and wonderful shopping atmosphere, I suggest you visit Debbie.
In plain talk some lives come full circle in time and place realizing long-held dreams and happiness on this way.
Just Plain Talk: Wander over to Deb's shop
- [S24] The Newport Plain Talk, (http://www.newportplaintalk.com), 22 Mar 2009.
Earlier the same day I wandered over to St. Tide Hollow because of a colorful ad that had appeared in the Plain Talk earlier. It announced the opening of Deb's Red Barn Boutiques. You recall that last year I visited with Debbie Johnson at her women's clothing store off East Broadway. Ever since she closed in June 2008, people have asked her to reopen and she has missed customers and friends too. The new larger shop is located next to Mike and Debbie Johnson's home. Mike has lived at the location for about 29 years and as a contractor built the home. A barn on the site burned some years back so he rebuilt it with a two-story structure. The basement is used for his construction and cabinet business. Debbie is in command of the first floor. I was welcomed by a small female beagle and a rainy mist. Debbie was preparing for the opening on Sunday, Mar. 15 and had the floor stocked well and she showed me new merchandise. Her plan is to carry neat, trendy styles and add large sizes too. Brand names she will sell include BCBG, Morgan Cole, Hanna & Gracie spotswear. For those shoppers who miss the Holley Shop, which closed last week, they can visit Debbie. As she completes the shop, more of her personality will appear. The window shades, for example, are a series of identical dresses gathered together. These were rejects that the company did not want her to send back so she used them for window drapes. There is about 1,200 square feet of space that includes a stage to one end. Debbie said this will be useful for fashion shows. During our conversation, she mentioned that her niece, Sierra, was doing much better after treatment last year for Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of lymphatic system cancer. Perhaps you heard of the World Series winning Red Sox pitcher, Jon Lester. At 22 he was diagnosed with this cancer, treated, and is doing great. Sierra was about his age when diagnosed. She is working at Macy's in Nashville but intends to join her Mom at Tellico Plains. Her mother, Sandy, is a sister to Debbie and was formerly married to Tom Inman.
"I'm always open to new ideas. What would you like me to carry?" The Red Barn Boutique hours are Tues., Thurs., Fri. from 11a.m. until 7 p.m. and 11 a.m. until 3 p-.m. Wed. and Sat. She is easy to find off St. Tide Hollow Rd. about three-tenths mile off Highway 321 not far from where all the new highway construction is taking place. St. Tide turn off is one mile north of the French Broad River. "Apparel emergencies are welcome," before or after hours, she said.