When you walk into Cherry Tree Creative at 4th Street and Main Street in downtown Taylor, the first thing that hits you is owner Curie Humphreys’ personality. You’re welcomed with a big smile, warm greeting and easy conversation. As other customers come in, she greets them by name with the same enthusiasm. It makes you want to become a regular customer.
In addition to the welcoming vibe Humphreys and her staff set, the big draw here is that everything in the store comes from around here. Cherry Tree sources all its goods from our area — Austin, Round Rock, Georgetown, Elgin, Granger, Taylor — so the shop’s environment reflects that mixture. The space represents the eclectic mix of suppliers and their individual passions.
“It’s something special to know something was created in your own backyard. That was one of my main reasons for starting the store,” Humphreys said. “I thought people would really want to purchase something that makes them feel good. They can say, ‘I bought this from somebody local. It didn’t come from overseas. Somebody crafted this or created this with their own mind, their own hands, and I’m buying it.’ It’s that feel-good factor. You feel good because you bought it. They got to do what brings them joy which was to create it. We as a shop owner and employees get to do what we enjoy which is helping customers.”
So everybody wins. And isn’t it usually that way with local businesses?
Humphreys has an extensive background in the retail business, so even though Cherry Tree Creative has only been open for three years, it feels and operates like a well oiled machine. And so does her other store right next door — The Nest Box. This other store has been open about two years.
The two shops have a doorway between them, and you have to walk through Cherry Tree Creative to get to The Nest Box, but they’re completely different. The Nest Box is a curated store with a unified aesthetic and similar design sensibilities among the displayed items. The Nest Box has tried and true brands of home goods, and Cherry Tree has items hard to find elsewhere from vendors you’ve probably never heard of before.
“The Nest Box complements Cherry Tree without competing against it,” Humphreys said.
Complementing without competing is a theme that runs through the downtown Taylor business district. It makes Taylor distinctly different from other area towns known for their shopping. Humphreys admires the success of nearby towns like Fredericksburg, Salado and Wimberley but works with her fellow shop owners to create something different in Taylor.
When you walk through the shops in those other towns, many of the shops look the same. They get their products from the same places, and you can buy the knick knacks, jewelry and other wares in several shops around those towns.
“People who don’t know what to do do what everybody else is doing. When that happens, it makes for a boring experience,” Humphreys said.
Someone in Fredericksburg sees a successful shop and in turn opens a similar boutique. Not in Taylor. Shop owners in Taylor present a variety of retail outlets where each one presents something different.
Getting people to shop downtown is something Humphreys and her fellow shop owners have been working to increase. With the ease of ordering things online and having them shipped to your doorstep, it can be difficult to get people to drive to a small downtown and darken the doorway of a local shop. But once people decide to travel downtown Taylor, they’re treated to a delightful shopping experience.
“Our customers are our biggest asset for sure,” Humphreys said. “I can advertise all day long, but realistically, I care way more what our customers say to their friends and family than anything else. We want them to tell their experience was extraordinary from the merchandise they saw to the service they received to the gift wrapping that we did. And even the way the store smells.”
So if you’re tired of clicking and adding items to your virtual shopping cart, hop in your car and make the short trip to Taylor. You’ll surely find something for yourself or for someone special at Cherry Tree Creative or The Nest Box.
Both shops are open every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Photos by Jenni Roberts Photography.