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W.J. Andriot’s will celebrate 35 years in the business next week and it’s come a long way from where it started, even though that was just a few blocks away.
The store, now at 718 Main Street, will celebrate its anniversary Thursday with a party featuring live music and finger foods.
“We just wanted to celebrate with a big party,” current owner B.J. Andriot said. “We wanted to get our friends, families, customers, everyone in the county really, together to help us celebrate all these years in the business. It’s just a way to thank Shelbyville for supporting us and my dad and mom for all these years. As we continue to grow, we want to thank everyone show our appreciation for all the support.”
B.J. Andriot’s father Bob Andriot, who now owns Bell House Restaurant, opened the first store, Coach Stop with his wife, Sue, in 1978 in the log cabin at 1025 Main Street that now houses Stacey’s Simple Stuff.
“I was a painter and did wall paper then, and our motivation was to have a place in Shelbyville that you could make one stop and get paint, wallpaper, picture frames. We wanted to put all that together,” Bob Andriot said.
So, when he found what was then a white siding-covered home on Main Street, he knew he had a gem.
“I had pulled some boards off in the back and seen the logs,” he said. “I thought how cool would it be to have this place in a log cabin.”
Although the store quickly outgrew that place, moving after one year, Bob Andriot said it wasn’t all fun and games.
“We really thought the people would just flock in,” he said. “That didn’t happen. I remember, it was around Christmas, and Wakefield-Scearce was getting ready to have their holiday kickoff weekend, and we knew these tour buses would be coming in.”
Sue Andriot said that they poured their time into getting ready for those tourists.
“We knew all these shoppers would be coming. We thought they’d be walking around town.
“They didn’t. We watched those buses come in and then go. They went to the gallery and nowhere else.”
After some modest growth, the two moved the shop to the 37 Main, which was and still is owned by Tom Riner. And then a few years later they were about ready to give up on their dream.
“We had remodeled that place, and those were some really tough years,” Bob Andriot said. “I was working outside the store as much as I could just make ends meet. We were about to shut the doors and give up, when we took a leap of faith.
“A new grocery store was going in at Village Plaza and we thought that’d be a great place with a lot of traffic. So we moved down there [in 1987], on the corner [on the west end].
And that’s when things really, kind of took off for us.”
Both Bob and Sue Andriot pointed to carpet as the big change, and it remained a big seller for them until they left the business in 2005.
By that point the store had moved back to Main Street and into a location that held a long, deep connection with the Andriot name.
The adjoining lot, which now houses Operation Care, and the current location, were the home to a garage and filling station years ago.
“My great grandfather used to work there [in the garage] when it was a garage,” B.J. Andriot said. “I have a picture of him standing in the doorway. And my great grandfather on my grandmother’s side would sit in a rocking chair out front of the station on this lot. He could’ve been sitting right here.”
That store has been open since 2005, and B.J. Andriot said he grew up in the business.
“I remember putting all the frames samples together,” he said. “You know, those little triangles that show all the different types. You’d put them together and tap them together with a little nail and then fill them with putty.”
And although the business remains and still includes flooring, paint – which has switched to Benjamin Moore now – and wall coverings, a few remnants still remain from the original shop.
“I remember, we had some of the coolest stuff in that shop,” Bob Andriot said. “We found this coppersmith in Gatlinburg, and he had these great handmade copper pots so we got some and were going to sell them. And now they hang in the restaurant.
Said Sue Andriot: “They’re still there in the Farm House room, hanging up.”
Andriot’s anniversary celebration
WHEN: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: W.J. Andriot’s, 718 Main St. in Shelbyville
WHY: To celebrate the store’s 35th anniversary, dating back to when it first opened as the Coach Stop at 1025 Main.
WHAT TO EXPECT: Live music and finger foods, and owner B.J. Andriot says everyone is invited.