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Business venture brings siblings closer together

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By Amanda Hensley

By AMANDA HENSLEY

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The News-Democrat

Crafts, antiques and a friendly atmosphere are a few things you can expect when you stop in “Simply Coffee & Crafts,” located at 427 Main St. in Carrollton.

The family-owned and operated shop just opened in March and has been going “steady” ever since, said Debbie Supplee, one of six siblings who run the business.

Supplee describes the shop as a “something to do” place for people of all ages, especially those who consider themselves collectors.

The shop has 25 booths available to renters to display and sell handmade arts and crafts or antiques, providing enough room to cater to “a variety of interests,” she said.

That’s where “Simply Coffee and Crafts” differs from other shops in the area, said brother Jamey Cobb. “We try to feature more locally handcrafted art.”

In addition to selling crafts, the shop also offers hands-on workshops taught by local artists on daily or weekly schedules on basket-weaving, stained glass, scrapbooking, pottery (one session, $30), quilting, watercolor painting and others. They also offer a six-week class in drawing and sketching for $75.

In the back of the shop is the “coffee” area, with five tables and a snack bar offering coffee, sodas and a few desserts – cookies, cakes and pies. A specialty is the “always ready” $5 brown-bag lunch that includes a pre-packaged sandwich, chips, drink and dessert.

When cooler weather arrives, they plan to add soups to the menu, Supplee said.

It’s all in the family

The siblings – brother Jamey Cobb and sisters Peggy Warfield and Betty Dermon, all of Sanders; sister Elaine Dolby of Ghent; and sister Kathy Alexander of Sparta, take turns manning the shop on days off from their main jobs. Their six children also help out.

However, “the sisters do the labor and the brother is the boss of the operation,” Warfield joked.   

“I do all the fun paperwork,” Cobb said.

Collecting has “always been our thing to do,” Supplee said. “We have so much of our own (collectables), we decided to share them with other people. … We do it because it’s something we enjoy, not because it’s something we have to do,” and that makes the atmosphere at the shop friendly and inviting, she said.

“We try to make everyone feel at home,” Warfield agreed.

Supplee collects blue cobalt glassware and costume jewelry; Dermon collects rolling pins and Griswold cast-iron skillets; Warfield collects old clocks and loves having a place set aside to work on her favorite crafts, such as quilting and crocheting; Dolby collects Victorian-style dolls; Alexander collects puzzles and enjoys embroidery; and Cobb collects coins and marbles, as well as old photographs and memorabilia of Carroll County or Sanders.

Supplee said meeting local artists and antique collectors and hearing their stories has been a bonus while managing the shop. “I wouldn’t care to shut the door today; it has been worth it because of the friends we’ve made.”

While Dolby acknowledges that no one expects to get rich from the business, she said they are profiting in ways beyond monetary success. “It’s drawing all of us closer together as a family,” she said.

Cobb explained that the siblings “drifted apart” after the death of their mother in 1999.

“We are really getting back together and bonding. It’s really nice.”

The other siblings agree.

 “We’ve spent more time together in the past four months than we have in the past four years,” Supplee said.

“All of us look forward to meeting there and doing something together,” Dermon agreed. “We always have a good time.”

The family has two goals for the business: one is to help local artists by helping to sell their work and to help them themselves through sharing their talent in the craft classes.

In fact, the siblings want the store to be a kind of a “stepping stone” for artists and collectors-alike to possibly start selling their art and antiques on their own.

“I would love to see that they [local artists] could open their own shop,” Supplee said.

The other goal, for Supplee at least, is to “get [Carrollton’s] Main Street back on its feet again.” She said downtown Carrollton could easily be as popular an attraction for tourist and shoppers as Madison, Ind., downriver.

Simply Coffee & Crafts is located at 427 Main Street. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Booths are available and vary in size and cost, ranging from a flat fee of $15 to $75 a month. And there is no percentage fee. All sales are “100 percent profit” for renters, co-owner Debbie Supplee said.

It pays to check in from time to time, as merchandise changes often, she said.

And, “the coffee’s always on,” said sister Peggy Warfield.

For more information on renting a booth or a schedule of upcoming craft classes, call Supplee at (502) 732-6274 or (502) 395-0062.