“Small business, big heart” proclaims the message on a chalkboard at the front of a popular family-owned store that recently moved from Berkeley Mall to a space almost triple its size.
From the Heart was established in 2007 by Paul and Debbie Talton of Goldsboro, who retired more than a year ago, said their son, Ted Talton, who continues to run the business with his wife, Brandy.
“They always had like seasonal stores. They always did Christmas stores in the malls,” Ted Talton said, recalling how his parents settled on what has turned into a family business. “They were tired of traveling, so they decided to open up a full-time shop in Goldsboro.”
The Berkeley Mall store started out with 1,200 square feet of space. Later when the adjacent store opened up, the Taltons were able to consolidate into the folksy atmosphere it is known for today.
“We outgrew it, and I think we expanded in 2010,” he said. “We had 4,500 square feet once we expanded.”
The store has never been a typical retail business. That became as plain as the signature wood floor featured in the “country store” side of things.
One side of the business focused on clothes and jewelry, as well as gift items, while the other side had an array of signs, flags and all sorts of nostalgic candies. A year ago, they added to the edible options, which included Simply Natural Creamery old-fashioned dip ice cream and an assortment of homemade cookies and popcorn.
From the Heart recently relocated less than a mile up Berkeley Boulevard in Crossroads Plaza, across from the Cook Out restaurant. The move afforded an opportunity to spread out a bit inside the larger 12,000-square-foot building.
The closing of Sears, one of the mall’s original anchor stores, was a factor in the decision to move, Ted Talton admitted.
“Our business was great in the mall,” he pointed out. “It wasn’t because of business. But it was being able to expand, I guess, for one thing.”
Many of the same features, like the wood floor, remain a part of the local store.
“When we were going to leave the mall, that’s what everybody asked us, were we going to bring the wood floor with us,” he said. “Because people like that. They’re not just walking into a retail space. That’s one reason we built this.”
The Taltons added a new wooden floor and an expansive porch and rocking chairs — the very same brand of chairs sold at Cracker Barrel restaurants, he said.
The store’s inventory still includes a large collection of Simply Southern brand items, clothing, jewelry, water bottles, shoes, socks, Costa sunglasses, and monogram and vinyl items.
“We kind of want to be that local place where people can come with their families,” he said. “It’s kind of family-oriented. We have something for everybody. We have tried to expand our men’s line so a man ain’t just standing around watching his wife shop; he can shop, too.”
The business has also been able to add more options, particularly in the areas of the garden section and home decor. Those items, like jewelry, have always been a part of the inventory, except now the selection is bigger and better, he said.
A hometown store, big enough to feature popular and trendy items while staying small enough to maintain relationships with its customers, is how the Taltons define success.
“We go off a lot of what the customers ask,” he said. “Their suggestions go a long way with us. I think that’s one thing that keeps us going is we stay up with the trends.
“I got that from my parents. They’d say, ‘You can’t be scared to try.’”
The couple do much of the work themselves, although they share praise and credit with others involved in the success of the store.
“We have a wonderful staff,” Brandy Talton said, from the full- and part-time employees who have faithfully supported the effort to the “ice cream kids. We have high school kids that start and then come back every year.”
The new location opened less than two weeks ago, and while it is in many ways bigger and better, Ted Talton stayed true to what has worked for the past 12 years.
“Everybody wanted to keep that country store feeling (that we had) in the mall,” he said.
Store hours are Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 6 p.m. The store is located at 415 N. Berkeley Blvd.