In 1947, 16-year-old Henley Cawood drove a Dodge pickup truck from Ringgold to Chickamauga to purchase blocks to build Cawood Grocery Store on Alabama Highway. Along the way, the truck's tires kept blowing out because the road was rough.
Just four years after purchasing the store, Henley's parents, W.N. Cawood and Lillie Cawood, wanted to rebuild it. So Henley and his father constructed the block work, using gravel from the nearby creek to mix with concrete for the flooring.
The Cawood family ran the store until 1961 and then began renting out the business. In 1979, Henley's son Michael Cawood took over the grocery store and ran it for 25 years. One night the store burned, after which it was left vacant for a few years. Then the family decided to renovate the store building and turn it into a gift shop.
Henley's daughter Deborah Cawood Ledford now runs the resultant Lily and Rose gift shop. The name affectionately stems from her grandmothers', the late Lillie Cawood and her late grandmother Rose on her mother's side. The shop's selection began with lamps and mirrors and now also offers scarves, purses and unique gifts like costume jewelry and decorative office supplies and tools wrapped with a floral print.
"I handpick everything in the store," said Ledford, who travels to Atlanta to buy items and tries to keep her prices for customers at $20 or less. "I have manicure sets, Natural Life products, inspirational gifts, aprons and photo frames."
Gifts made in the South, like Knoxville Soap Company soap in a wide variety of scents from plumeria to seaweed to avocado, and scented, wax bowls made by Habersham Candle Company in Cornelia, Ga., wait at the ready alongside Bible covers, iPad covers, bookmarks and prayer boxes. In the baby section of the store, Ledford said the Boo Bunnies are popular. The small bunnies contain an ice pack that can be cooled in the freezer.
The store has always had a special place in Ledford's life. She met her husband there in 1979 when he stopped by the former grocery store for a candy bar and a soft drink. Ledford also remembers moving to live near the store in 1963 at age 2 from Chattanooga. Now the entire Cawood family lives within 1 mile of the Ringgold store.
"My grandmother used to ask customers to watch the grocery store while she ran up to the house to fix lunch," said Ledford. "People liked to come in Cawood Grocery Store to hang out and talk."
These days, Ledford's daughters Audrey, 30, and Danielle, 24, like to stop by the store to talk to her and give her tips for new store products.
"Before owls were popular, my daughters told me to buy owls," she said. "They tell me what jewelry is popular to sell too."