crystal springs — Lewis & Clarke’s New Discoveries has an unusual name and an unusual assortment of merchandise. It’s almost easier to list what the store doesn’t have than the huge number of items it carries.
Owner Cliff Goolsby says, “I’m carrying such a variety of things, I’m flabbergasted at what else I could get in here. There’s not much we don’t have.”
Opened last November, the eclectic business revived one of the town’s old buildings on Marion Avenue and keeps the name of Goolsby’s late brother alive. There was only one year between Cliff and Lewis Clarke Goolsby and they were close. Lewis Clarke was only 21 when he was killed in an automobile accident.
Cliff Goolsby did all of the renovations on the circa 1956 building himself and was not sure what the business would be or what he would name it. “My brother’s name kept coming to mind as I did the work and I wondered what he would do,” he said. “At first I was going to call it New Discoveries, but I just kept thinking about my brother.”
As a former buyer for Whatever Works in Canton, Goolsby used his retail background to determine the type of business for the building. However, he’s keeping his options open and says the building would also make a good restaurant, something that should go over well in a small town with few dining options.
Goolsby, 37, grew up in the Forest Hill area of South Jackson but has been involved with restorations in Crystal Springs since 1975 when his dad, Johnny Goolsby, bought property there.
“We biked and fished here; rebuilt an old 1854 home and built some new ones,” he said. “We came across this building and the owner sold it at a good price. I wanted it restored and we had the expertise to do it.”
The building formerly housed a Ford Motor car dealership, a bank and other businesses. A fiberglass fabricator was the most recent tenant and left fiberglass deposits all over, including the floor. Goolsby scraped the floors and installed ceramic tile and some heart pine flooring. The 7,600-square-foot structure was totally rebuilt.
Goolsby says it took a lot to clean up the building. That included scrubbing the rafters of the all-metal frame building with a metal brush. He took down old shelving boards and ran them through a planer to reveal beautiful heart pine. These boards are used throughout for some walls, trim work, stairs and even a desk built into the structure. The stairs lead to a loft used for storage and an employee break room.
On the outside there’s a 20-by-24 foot porch with an overhang and rocking chairs. Cypress shutters and an enormous cypress sign complete the façade that’s surrounded by a plethora of outdoor merchandise.
Goolsby says there are two atmospheres inside the store, a normal section at the front with typical ceilings and a larger section that soars to a height of 37 feet. “The back part is like a barn,” he said. “People walk in and say ‘wow’.”e
The aisles are short and wheel chair accessible with the plentiful merchandise grouped by categories and well organized. To list some of the offerings: pottery, purses, hanging baskets, silk flowers, live plants, scarves, furniture, pewter, garden art, iron works, wall art, dolls, jewelry, wind chimes, shoes, hair care products, bath products, mirrors (standing and hanging), cleaning supplies, comforter sets, arches, benches, candle sticks, candy, intimate apparel, men’s blue jeans, panty hose, socks, backpacks, makeup bags, rugs, cell phone accessories, greeting cards, picture frames and balloons.
To purchase all those items, Goolsby is a member of a group of 14 different businesses that band together for better buying power at better prices. The businesses are located all over the South and the group meets every quarter.
Lewis & Clarke’s New Discoveries also has gift certificates available and gift wrapping with handmade bows. The staff can also put together flower arrangements for cemeteries.
Goolsby says they aren’t trying to compete with local florists, but that’s just a service expected in small towns.
The store currently has five employees. It opened in time for last year’s holiday season and is doing fine even with the summer slowdown. Goolsby says he’s pleased to be open in Crystal Springs and certain he doesn’t want to sell this building that represents a labor of love.
Contact MBJ contributing Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.