Victoria York-Tomlinson and her husband, Brad, didn't exactly go by the book when they opened Good World Goods in 2009 in the midst of the Great Recession.
"It seemed like a good idea at the time," Brad Tomlinson deadpans.
The couple has more than weathered that storm, though, and now are settling into a 2,500-square-foot space at the intersection of East Brainerd and Jenkins roads. That location is home not only to Good World Goods, but to their art gallery, The Makers LLC, as well.
York-Tomlinson says she and her husband have strived to make Good World Goods, a gift shop specializing in unique gifts and home goods, a reflection of their desire to "live authentically" and "do what we believe in."
"Everything in the store is artisan-made or small-maker," she says. "The words around our logo are 'artisan-made, fair trade, local, sustainable.'"
The Makers features not only works by the couple – York-Tomlinson says she and her husband are avid artists in various media and once sold 65 paintings in a single year – but a variety of local artists, as well. York-Tomlinson says the couple debuted the gallery with a February reception.
"We have canvas art, glass art, metal sculpture and pottery," she says. "We have a woodworker who makes furniture, and most everything can be customized – the artists we book through the store do custom work. We also do a lot of work with interior designers."
It's a long way from that 2009 opening in Hixson that, according to York-Tomlinson, had friends scratching their heads.
"People asked us, 'You're starting a business now?'" she recalls. "But we actually grew pretty quickly. People were buying small. Instead of buying new, they brought us furniture to refurbish."
Tomlinson says that first store had everything from 99-cent worry dolls to $3,000 paintings – too much of everything for the space, in fact.
"It was tiny," he says. "Furniture stacked on top of furniture in about 500 square feet."
The couple actually wanted to move then into the space it occupies now, but Tomlinson says it was "just out of reach" at that point. They moved instead to another East Brainerd location, then pulled up stakes again a few years later for a space down the road.
Finally, in 2020, the couple got the space they had coveted for years. The move was the fourth for the business in just over a decade, but York-Tomlinson tips her hat to their loyal clientele.
"We are so lucky," York-Tomlinson says. "We've done a lot of promotion on social media and a lot of newspaper and other advertising, but we've been blessed with a core group of customers that appreciates what we're doing. Several of our customers from when we were in Hixson still shop with us."
The Makers/Good World Goods
* Online: goodworldgoods.com
* Address: 7794 East Brainerd Road
The couple made their most recent move in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic. But York-Tomlinson says that, just as she and her husband had the right approach to opening during the Great Recession, they modified their methods for the pandemic.
"Who'd have thought it would last this long?" she says. "We've been hit, certainly, but we've changed our focus and moved forward. Business on our website has doubled – our customers order online, swing buy and pick up.
"We're adapting to our customers. Instead of digging in and telling them 'This is who we are' and making them deal with us on our terms, we've adapted," she says.