Laura and Lucy’s store sold

Published 4:05 pm Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Real estate agents Jay and Amber Hassell of Smithfield have purchased the former Laura and Lucy’s antiques store space on Main Street.

They’re in the process of renovating and rebranding the building as “Hamtown Mercantile,” a community marketplace that will lease retail space to merchants, artists and local boutiques at a fraction of what it would cost for such vendors to buy or rent their own storefronts.

“They never have to open the doors or close at night,” Jay Hassel said. “We will handle all the expenses of owning and maintaining a brick-and-mortar, while they continue their lives, working their full-time jobs, raising their children or simply traveling. The goal is to give them a permanent presence on Main (Street).”

He expects to create between 20 to 30 available tenant spaces, each available for an average of $350 a month depending on square footage.

The couple hopes to open by early spring 2022. According to Jay, they’ve already received verbal commitments from several tenants.

The historic storefront has been a staple of downtown Smithfield for decades. Its previous owner, R.K. “Bob” Redlin, had purchased the property in 2009 to house “Laura and Lucy’s” after moving the antiques business from a converted residential duplex elsewhere on Main Street. Redlin closed the store permanently in mid-2020 after a cumulative 23 years in business, citing the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Before Redlin, the building served as home to another antiques business known as the Antique Emporium. Before that, it was the George W. Delk Department Store, which first opened in 1939.

Jay describes the day he acquired the building from Redlin as “kind of a handshake deal.”

“We looked at the store, and looked at the top of the roof … he handed me the key and he told me to close (on the sale) when I want to,” Jay said.

Jay and Amber now co-own the building with Jay’s parents, Susan and Jim Hassell, though only Jay and Amber will be running the Hamtown Mercantile business.

“It’s not easy to get started in retail sales,” Jay said. “Local merchants don’t always have the time or resources but have amazing products that people want to discover when visiting our Historic Downtown. We want these merchants to have the opportunity and for the community and visitors to have more access. It has always been Amber and I’s passion to help promote small business growth. When we saw the opportunity, we both knew it was a worthy endeavor.”