Tenant search led to entrepreneurship for commercial real estate agent

When commercial real estate agent Stephanie Folsom set out to find a tenant for a shopping center, she had no idea it would lead to a new venture for herself.

Folsom, partner/owner at Macon-based Coldwell Banker Commercial Eberhardt, & Barry Inc., was hired as leasing agent for Vineville Crossing Shopping Center at 4420 Forsyth Road, and she tried to find an existing ladies clothing business to go in a vacant spot.

“There is no reason why a women’s clothing store should not be in that center,” Folsom said. “I began talking to boutique stores in Macon, and it didn’t work for one reason or another.”

Her search led her to Atlanta and she discovered fab’rik Boutique Inc., founded by Dana Spinola.

“When I walked in, the clouds parted,” Folsom said. “It was the most amazing store.”

Spinola said she was not interested in opening a store in Macon, but told Folsom a franchise was available.

“I said ‘I have a full-time job and a great career,’ ” Folsom said. “I’m not looking at anything like that.”

But Folsom worked out an agreement that allowed her to hire a manager and sales team and keep her current job.

“I could oversee it from afar and keep my career going,” she said. “The next thing I knew, I had purchased a franchise. ... Commercial real estate is my full-time job — this was a business opportunity.”

The shop will sell everything from casual to cocktail clothing, shoes, purses and jewelry, she said. It also will display and sell local artwork with different artists every quarter. The store also will feature a water bar, selling bottled water from around the world, she said.

The boutique, which will open Thursday, will be open 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays, and 1 p.m.-5 p.m. Sundays. Folsom said as a working woman she knows it’s important to be open later than most boutiques.

Folsom has hired a manager and three sales people, but she is still looking to hire a full-time salesperson. Anyone interested can drop off a résumé at the store, she said.

“As a woman and as a shopper in town, I knew we didn’t have this,” Folsom said. “And I knew there was a need for it because of the price point, and their quality, their style.”

To contact writer Linda S. Morris, call 744-4223.