The opening of The Copper Pig gift shop in June 2006 preceded Dunwoody’s cityhood by 18 months. But there couldn’t be a better example of the hometown atmosphere envisioned by those who worked so hard to create the new city.
The Copper Pig owner, Lisa Molen, has lived in Dunwoody for 30 years. For several years, she and a friend operated a seasonal gift shop out of her basement. Five years ago, she decided to broaden that concept.
“I wanted [a shop] to be a gathering place,” Molen said. “I have friends who are artists who wanted to sell [their wares] but didn’t have other outlets. I wanted a place where someone can get away [from the house] without going to the mall; [a place] for classes.” Molen staffed The Copper Pig, which celebrates its fifth anniversary on June 22, with longtime friends, who are her Dunwoody neighbors.
Molen learned about the gift business when she ran a Christmas “secret shopper” fundraiser at her children’s school, Holy Innocents Episcopal School, for several years. To find items suitable for students to purchase as holiday gifts for their families, she shopped at wholesale gift markets. When Molen and her friend started their home-based seasonal gift shows, she expanded her merchandise to include home accessories, hostess gifts, furniture and food items, among other offerings.
Molen’s home-based gift business ended when her 16-year-old son died 10 years ago. Revitalizing the business with a retail location was her way of moving forward.
“I did this (opening The Copper Pig) to get back with my life again,” Molen said.
Some 30 local artists sell such varied creations as soap, jewelry and artwork at The Copper Pig. Some of the merchandise is on consignment, but Molen also stocks items purchased at gift shows and items she’s accumulated on trips to Europe. She also sells homemade gourmet food products.
One any given day, classes are offered in bridge, needlepoint, mah jongg and sometimes cooking.
Dozie Bowen of Dunwoody has shopped at The Copper Pig since it opened.
“They have lovely things. They keep the merchandise fresh and you can always find something pretty,” Bowen said. “Sometimes I go in just to browse.”
It’s not just the merchandise that keeps drawing Bowen into the shop. “All the gals who work there are nice,” she said.
Dunwoody resident Lynn Self started working at The Copper Pig when Molen was getting the store ready to open. “I thought it would be fun. Lisa has great style and wonderful taste and I knew she would have quality things,” Self said.
Like the shopper Bowen, Self appreciates more than just the merchandise at The Copper Pig.
“Lisa is so easy to work for. We’re like family,” she said. “Like the little piglets.”
Self said she likes working in the community where she lives. “It’s a homey gathering place type of store,” she added.
Bonnie Martin, also of Dunwoody, echoes Self’s sentiments about their workplace. “Lisa is a wonderful, warm, caring person who understands about balancing work and family,” said Martin, a part-time manager.
Like most retailers, Molen has ridden the economic roller coaster the past few years. She closed for a few months at the beginning of 2011, “to remodel and re-think my business plans,” she said. She cut back on store hours and stocked more economical merchandise. “Now, people are buying gifts but not necessarily buying for themselves so we cut back on accessories,” she added.
Any difficulties have been worth it. “Emotionally, [The Copper Pig] has helped me a lot,” said Molen. “It has strengthened a lot of friendships and I’ve made new ones.” It’s also become a family business since Molen’s daughter, Lauren Adams, began working with her.
The store’s name may seem random, but it, too, is tied to Molen’s desire to create not just a retail store but also a meeting place.
“I had fancy French names picked out but thought they might be hard to pronounce or spell,” Molen said. “I was looking for something simpler. We have a copper pig bench on the deck. I saw it one day and said, ‘that’s it.’ A nice fun, comfortable, user-friendly place.”
The Copper Pig is located at 5529 Chamblee Dunwoody Road (Dunwoody Village). Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (770) 394-1744.
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