In the world of retail it’s becoming difficult to find a thriving business that has been family owned for generations. Wits’ End Shop has been both a Main Street fixture and a Highlands institution for over seven decades and celebrated its’ 75th anniversary in 2015. That means 75 years in continuous business in the same location owned by three generations of the same family.
In 1940 Mrs. Oliver Earle Young, Sr. bought the building that had been Luke Rice’s meat market for $2500. On one side was the post office and on the other side was Potts Market. Knowing the town needed somewhere to purchase presents and wedding gifts, she opened Wits’ End Shop. She sold old English silver, European porcelain, needlepoint, linens and old prints to “southern ladies and their families.” Her son Earle worked in the store from the age of 12 and took over proprietorship with his wife Mary Lu in the mid-1950s. After their passing, the torch was given to their son David’s wife Susan, who now manages the buying and daily operation of the business. Susan worked with Mary Lu for nearly 25 years and during that time the two of them transitioned the store from gifts to clothing. It’s a small-town store with big city style and a devoted clientele of locals and summer visitors alike. “We’re known for our colorful prints, cashmere and jewelry, but more than that, we’ve become a truly intergenerational store. We have grandmothers and granddaughters shopping here at the same time,” says Susan.