From customer to friend to business partner

Published 11:03 pm Thursday, March 19, 2009

When Amy Wiegand moved to Suffolk from Charlotte, N.C. three years ago, she needed some help sprucing up her home on Clay Street.

While driving around the city, she found her way to Powell Home — then located at the Shoppes on the Village Green — and met owner Janice Powell.

“We just kind of struck it up and kept in touch,” Wiegand said of the interior decorator. “She helped me with my window treatments, and we just instantly clicked.”

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Soon, Wiegand was starting her own business. In the fall of 2006, she had launched “The Prints and The Paper,” a stationery and paper goods store, out of her home.

Business took off. The business was doing so well, in fact, that soon Wiegand set up an online store for customers around the world as well as right down the street.

“I was very surprised and very thankful to the Suffolk community for their support,” Wiegand said. “It was terrific.”

And part of that support came from Powell.

The women would recommend each other’s businesses to clients and even work together on projects ranging from Home-a-rama displays to a client’s wedding.

“I think we both had a really good sense of each other’s style and direction,” Powell said. “It just seemed like a natural fit.”

The fit became even more perfectly suited when the women both found themselves searching for new business opportunities and directions in the wake of the nation’s dwindling economy.

“We had talked about maybe one day getting together for something,” Wiegand said. “And one day is now.”

Two weeks ago, Wiegand moved The Prints and The Paper into Powell Home, now located in its own building on Bridge Road.

“When you have outside factors that are affecting your business, you have to be creative in how you deal with it,” Powell said. “You can’t let it control you or stop you from fulfilling your vision, your dream.”

“These are our blood, sweat and tears, these businesses,” Wiegand said. “We have to pull together to stick together as community businesses, community people to stick it out.”

Powell said she has been surprised at how easily the two businesses have intertwined.

“When Amy and I started talking about this, I wouldn’t have thought this was a match so perfectly made,” Powell said. “Our customers are on the same level. Her customers are decorating their homes and renovating their homes. My customers have children and grandchildren graduating from kindergarten, graduating from college and they want to announce these great accomplishments.”

And Wiegand said she is thrilled to have the opportunity to learn from Powell.

“Powell Home is classic and timeless,” she said. “And that’s another thing Janice has that has always appealed to me, her outstanding standards of customer service. This was a great opportunity for me to get in touch with more people and hopefully increase my customer service as well. I think it was just meant to be that I walked into Powell Home that day.”