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Our Beginning by Betsy Bradfield

posted:February 16, 2014
In my eighth grade year, David Millard Junior High stood proudly atop a hill on Woodfin Street where Beverly Hanks Office Park currently sits on the now level site. Every school day, as the afternoon bell rang out its freedom to us students, my friends and I walked the few blocks up to Woolworth’s and found our big red booth, sharing french fries and Cokes. This had less to do with a great thirst or hunger than it did with the point of our being seen downtown. My eyes, in particular, were searching for a bright yellow MG Midget with big white dots painted on it, my crush of the year behind the wheel.

Memories of these times fuel my love for this town which I am fortunate enough to have called home since my birth. There were five generations of women in my family before my 96 year old grandmother, Hopie, passed away. Now, besides my three children, I have three grandchildren, all living here in Asheville! I had two businesses when my children, Jenny, Stephen, and Laura, were school age. My first endeavor was custom sewing and design for homes, which I did for 15 years. After wanting to do something different, I swapped needles and thread for jewelry making tools, having fun with fire and silver for a few years, but it was a solitary business and I wanted to get out of the studio.

In 2008, my daughter, Jenny, and I worked together to bring my idea for a new kind of boutique to downtown Asheville. Our different ages and ideas blended perfectly to bring a little something for all who appreciate style, comfort and individuality. I chose “frock” as the name because my grandaddy, Clovis, used to notice if I wore something other than my regular worn out jeans and workboots (”brogans” to him). He’d say, “That’s a mighty pretty frock you’re wearin’ today.” His tendency to rarely speak, between chopping wood, playing checkers, cracking black walnuts, or smoking a pipe, made those words all the sweeter. They made me feel like a girl, instead of the tomboy I was.

Another thing that means a lot to me is that my store is located in the historic Miles Building, which has fared a better fate than David Millard Junior High School, torn down many years ago. The owners of my building have put their energy into seeing the original vision of the Miles family, which was to keep it a space for small retail businesses instead of more downtown condominiums. I’m proud to be part of that kind of preservation of Asheville’s heritage. And I’m glad I get to look at Woolworth’s from my front window.


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