By Thomas Sellers Jr.
Editor’s note: Features about Shelby County businesses appear weekly in all four of the Journal West 10 newspapers in Shelby County. We also welcome your suggestions on who to feature next; email ideas to The Millington Star editor Thomas Sellers Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Ingram remembers the days of Downtown Millington thriving and buzzing with businesses like Old Timers Restaurant and Millington Cable.
In anticipation of opening her business, Bless Her Heart Southern Boutique, last year, the news rocked Flag City of Old Timers’ closing last May. Ingram proceeded with her dream of opening a boutique in her hometown on July 16, 2017.
Reaching the milestone of a one-year anniversary has been an achievement and labor of love for the 1993 Millington Central High School graduate.
“I’ve always been a part of Millington,” Ingram said. “So I would really like to see this district, old town to be revitalized. I would love to see a couple of businesses open over here in the square.”
Operating next door to Crystal’s Hair Salon, Bless Her Heart calls 5104 Easley Street home.
“It’s a good old Southern term,” Ingram said of the business’ name. “Since it is a Southern boutique, we wanted to use something that was a Southern term that people would recognize. We did win Best New Business Name from Memphis Business Journal when we first opened.
“Our motto is to make every women feel as beautiful on the outside as she is on the inside,” she continued. “We believe having good clothes or a nice outfit or some new jewelry makes anybody feel better.”
In a year Bless Her Heart has made several residents in the Millington area feel good, winning the 2018 Millington Star Readers’ Choice Award for Best Children’s and Women’s Clothing.
“We do offer women’s clothing,” Ingram said. “We have a lot of gift items and a lot of unique jewelry. We use local businesses, like Tennessee businesses. One of our artists is a Millington native, Audrey Ervin. She brings in a lot of local artistic pieces. We have a lady from Atoka who does some sugar scrubs. Just some local jewelry makers. We try to use a lot of local vendors when we can.”
Ingram has the award from The Millington Star on display near the jewelry container in the store.
“I was very surprised and excited,” she said. “I was hoping it would help a lot of people recognize the business. We still meet people, ‘Oh I didn’t know you were there.’ We’ve been opened a year so I think that award helped with some recognition.”
Bless Her Heart gets a lot of recognition from Ingram’s day job of being a SPED math teacher at Millington Central High School. Several students and colleagues have stopped by the boutique to pick up the latest blouses, gowns, jeans and patterns and designs.
The challenge of being a teacher is that Ingram prioritizes time for her students and colleagues. When she’s not able to be at the shop, family members Amanda Thomas and Mackenzie Ingram keep things running smoothly.
“I am a teacher, so I’m not able to be here a lot of the times,” Ingram acknowledged. “I do trust the people I do have here. Mackenzie is very creative. We do make a lot of custom order like custom shirts and baby onesies. She’s able to do a lot of that.”
Bless Her Heart Southern Boutique offers several local items that will give a woman an exclusive look summer, spring, fall or winter. In the first year of operation, Amy said the Christmas season was a surprise hit with several men coming through to buy original gifts like decorations for the living room to jewelry for loved ones.
Ingram said the men can drop off their special woman by the boutique to give her a chance to visualize and feel the choices Bless Her Heart has to offer.
“It’s good to be able to come in and try on something,” she noted. “Being able to touch something and being able to try it on, not having to worry about returning it later on because it didn’t fit. It’s just being able to see things. Is it the right cut? Is it the right color?
“Things are not always as accurate online,” Ingram added. “I really like for people to be able to come in. When you try something on it’s a whole different experience.”
Ingram would like to see the return of the classic experience of a Millington family being able to come downtown and enjoy a day in Flag City. Amy and her husband, Darryl, have raised their three children, all MCHS graduates, to give back to their hometown.
“I would love to see something move into the old cable company and Old Timers location,” she said. “I think the Discovery Park is supposed to be opening over here. I want to see all of this come to fruition. I want to see this community grow and local businesses open up.
“And Millington will support local businesses by coming in to shop vs. online,” Ingram continued. “We do have online sales but our business is mostly depending on customers coming in to shop.”
Ingram said from Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Bless Her Heart is worth a visit.
“We’re very friendly,” Amy concluded. “We are a local business. A Millington family who has been in the community for a long time. We’re always trying to support the local athletics by making a donation. Just the community in general that we’ve worked to be a part of this community. We live in this community. We live in Shelby Forest. I just want to see the people support their local businesses.”
To celebrate their one-year anniversary, Bless Her Heart will have a sale July 21 with free gifts with a purchase. There will also be a drawing for a giveaway. The shop will also have food that day.
For more information, visit Bless Her Heart on Facebook or call (901) 873-1362.
THOMAS SELLERS JR. is editor of The Millington Star and both the sports editor and a weekly personal columnist for Journal West 10 Media LLC. Contact him by phone at (901) 433-9138, by fax to (901) 529-7687 and by email to email@example.com.