New owner leaves classroom to learn new business

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 10, 2010

NATCHEZ — In just one day Kelly Fuller went from being the teacher to being the student.

Fuller recently became the new owner of Just 4 You Mongrams and Gifts in Natchez and will spend the next few months learning a new trade.

Before making the jump to retail business owner, Fuller was a high school art, speech, English and computer teacher at Wilkinson County Christian Academy.

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Monday she left the classroom behind to begin some learning of her own. But lucky for her, Fuller said, she has a great teacher.

Former store owner Susan Smith is staying on board until January to get Fuller fully acquainted with the retail world.

“She is a wonderful teacher, Fuller said of Smith. “I came in and really knew nothing about retail so I’m so thankful that she is still here helping.”

Fuller said before talking to Smith about the business, she never considered being a storeowner. But Just 4 You was too good of a fit to pass up.

“I’ve always been a creative person,” Fuller said. She has a master’s degree in art education.

“This will definitely give me more outlets for my creativity,” she said.

The store specializes in monogramming bags, shirts, blankets and other items and also carries a wide selection of children’s, wedding, baby and home gift items.

Fuller said she wasn’t actively looking to buy the store, and Smith wasn’t actively looking to sell the store. But the time was right for each of them.

“When God gives you an open door you walk through it and if it is right, He’ll keep opening it for you,” Smith said.

Fuller said she knew early own, Just 4 You was the right stop for her.

“There was just a bond between me and (Smith),” Fuller said. “We clicked and both knew it was going to work.”

Smith purchased the business in 2005.

Smith said during the six years of owning the store she focused a lot of attention on growing the gift items portion of the business and has been pleased with the customers’ reactions.

“A lot of people come in here and say ‘I can do all of my shopping in this one store,’” Smith said. “That makes me think I’ve done a good job.”

For Fuller, Smith leaves big shoes to fill.

“She knows every one of her customers,” Fuller said. “She knows exactly what they will want and like when they walk in the store.

“It will take some time for me to get to that point, but that is my goal.”

Smith said she has full confidence that Fuller will be able to continue that tradition.

“I told her from the beginning, if things didn’t click, if I didn’t think someone was going to do a good job with the store, they weren’t getting the keys,” Smith said. “I look at this store like my baby that I cared for for six years, and now I’ve found its adoptive mother.”

Fuller isn’t alone though. She has also brought on board Holly Hankins Wadsworth, a graphic designer, to help keep the creative juices flowing in the store.

“Its going to be a big help to our customers have someone else with creative eyes in the store,” Fuller said.

The store is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday.

The store is located at 307 Seargent S. Prentiss Drive and can be reached at 601-442-8293.