by Cindy Steele
Carol and Dave Derbyshire are celebrating their 20th anniversary
this yearnot their wedding anniversary, their 20th year
in business together as Carol's Crafts in Nashville. Their shop
is located on South Van Buren Street in the Artists Colony Shops.
The business began as a craft supply store at the corner of
Molly's Lane and North Van Buren and later moved to a space up
the street. They settled into their current location in the late
The Derbyshires operated a craft supply business for ten years
in Mooresville before they opened their Nashville shop. They
sold mostly do-it-yourself projects and conducted craft classes
such as tole painting, stained glass, and decoupage. They divided
time between both locations for several years, but decided to
sell the shop in Mooresville. They tired of the commute from
their home in Mooresville and eventually moved to Brown County.
The business gradually evolved from craft projects and supplies
to gift and collectible items when the do-it-yourself decorating
craze lost its momentum.
Dave and Carol tried to change their shop name to "Carol's
Fine Gifts and Collectibles" a few years ago, but decided
the confusion and frustration with suppliers and creditors wasn't
worth the trouble. Instead, they changed their sign to say "Carol's
Fine Gifts and Collectibles" and answer the phone as "Carol's."
Having worked together for 30 years, Dave and Carol attribute
the success of their partnership to the division of labor. It
is almost as though they operate two shops under one roof.
"We kind of divide the shophis and hers. That helps
us because he is totally responsible for his lines and I am mine.
Really, it has worked out pretty well. Not only do we divide
the responsibilities, but it gives our employees the knowledge
thatokay this is Dave's line so I don't ask Carol. And
vise versa," explained Carol.
"When you are dealing with that many lines it is hard
for one person. We have more than 18,000 stock-keeping items,"
When I asked the couple to describe what they carry, the list
became too long for the space of this article. There are many
collectible lines such as Lennox china and crystal, Cherished
Teddies and Precious Moments, Snowbabies, Disney Classics, Anri
woodcarvings, bronze and pewter items, and a variety of collectible
Santas. They recently expanded their line of Lang Graphic paper
products. The Russian handmade boxes are popular and so are the
hand-painted eggs and ornaments.
Recently they eliminated miniatures in order to expand other
areas of the store. "You've got to change. You can't stay
the same. You can't give the same look year after year after
year. We thought it would be the thing to do at this point,"
When I asked Carol how she decides what to buy she told me,
"The answer to that is, you listen to the customers and
also see what they are talking about at the gift and art shows."
Keeping in close touch with customers is a big part of their
"We have an extremely large computer database of people
who are collectors and who buy from us. We have somewhere in
the range of 7000. One of the things we do with them is to communicate
with them when we have something special going on in their line
of interest," said Carol.
Dave added, "We can target out marketing to a specific
group of people instead of doing a blanket mailing to 7000 people."
The customer records have codes to represent purchased collectible
Carol's Crafts ship items all over the world. Many customers
order from the catalogs and newsletters that Dave and Carol mail
out. Some of their mail order business comes from their web site
Mail orders are great, but it is the personal contact and
good customer service that draw shoppers back to Carol's Crafts.
"It is obvious to Dave and me that we have been blessed
from day one with exceptional people on our staff. We give a
lot of credit to those employees and their dedication, and their
interest in how well we do. They have been a huge part of our
success. We owe a lot of it to them. We don't take that for granted,"
The Derbyshires hold staff meetings to keep the employees
informed. They discuss any new products and their plans for the
future. "We talk with them about whether business is up
or down. We try to include them. I think it really pays dividends
because then they feel a part," said Carol.
Carol's Crafts will be celebrating their 20 years of success
with the public on June 9th and 10th. They are sending out invitations
to 2,500 of their customers, but everyone is welcome. Carol is
very excited about the upcoming event. "We are going to
have big, big, specialssome really attractive incentives.
We will have free gifts for the first people that show up."
There will be door prizes throughout both days. Some of the artists
will be there to demonstrate their crafts. For the kids, there
will be Winnie the Pooh, Santa, and face painting. Refreshments
will be served.
For more information contact Carol's Crafts at 988-6388 or
toll free 800-345-6388.
Back to Top