When she opened The Front Door and More in November 2011, owner Cathy Johnson fulfilled a lifelong dream. She sells one-of-a-kind, handmade wreaths to adorn your front door – and more.
“When I was very small, … I would go out and break limbs off things and pick flowers, and I would make things for my momma,” Johnson said. “I would just always dream of doing something like this.” When she was in high school, she said, she’d ask florists if she could help them sweep the floors in exchange for being allowed to watch them arrange flowers.
Today, she puts her selftaught talents to use and creates custom wreaths. “I do have wreaths already made in the shop, but I love it when someone comes in and says, ‘Can you do this?’ We discuss it, and I try to see what’s in their mind and convey that into either a grapevine wreath or a decomesh wreath,” Johnson said.
Of the various materials she uses in her creations, she said, “There’s no limit. … Depending on the wreath, there will be different items in it. Say that you had children in your home and you wanted that wreath to be whimsical and fun. You (might have) elf legs out the top, brightly covered balls and different colors of ribbon.”
Johnson said she recently created a wreath for a customer who wanted a nature-driven aesthetic. The customer also wanted a wreath that could be used year-round rather than just at Christmastime. Johnson crafted a large, oval grapevine base and loaded it with silk or plastic evergreen boughs, burgundy magnolia, berries, pine cones and a custom burlap bow that says “Merry Christmas.” Once the holidays are over, the customer will be able to return to the shop, and Johnson will change out the Christmas bow with a year-round bow, free of charge.
The average price of a wreath, depending on size and materials, ranges from $39-$79. Customers receive their creation within a week of ordering.
In the “And More” category, Johnson also sells silk floral arrangements, flags, candles and various small gift items. The flags include the popular brands Custom Decor and Evergreen Flag and are not, Johnson said, the kind you could find at larger retail stores. Her selection includes regional flags, flags with Southern sayings, seasonal flags and flags inspired by nature.
The candles are made by A Cheerful Giver. “The reason I chose that company is because they give back to their community. They employ mentally challenged adults,” Johnson said.
Community is just as much a part of Johnson’s drive as is her love for making wreaths. “There’s not one wreath that goes out of this shop that has not been prayed for,” she said. “That’s just something that I always do. I pray for the home it’s going in, for peace, for laughter, and for every guest that goes through the front door that it be a wonderful experience.
That’s one of the differences in shopping with a local merchant. … That’s why these little ole’ hometown places are so special. You might come in here and not find one thing. You might’ve thought you came in here to buy something, but you really didn’t – you came in here to tell me something that you needed to tell somebody. I don’t know your family, so I can’t go tell them. It’s really more like the local gas station the way it used to be 15 years ago, but for women.”
The importance of community factored into her decision to open on Trade Street, as well. The Front Door and More is located in a renovated mill house that’s over 100 years old. It has a front porch, where Johnson puts out chairs in the spring and summer and encourages people to sit and talk – even if they never enter the store.
“I had an older couple that came in the summer that was raised in this town and moved on,” Johnson said. “They remembered this house; the people that lived here. And they said, ‘Do you mind if we sit on the porch for a little while?’ They were reliving their childhood on the porch.”
Johnson said she’d love to see Trade Street return to its previous vibrancy in terms of both community and economy, and she’s glad to be one of many business owners working toward that goal.
“When I got to be 60 years of age, I said just because I am 60 does not mean I cannot try to fulfill my dream that I’ve had my whole life,” she said. “It was like, ok, I have nothing to lose but everything to gain. That’s basically why I (did) it. To show myself and others just because you get to a certain age, don’t let that age define who you are. Go for your dreams.”
The Front Door and More is located at 5548 Trade St. in Hope Mills. Visit www.thefrontdoorandmore.com, like the business on Facebook, or call (910) 425-2204 for more information.
Business hours are Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.