If you're looking for proof that "the Gettysburg mentality" is shifting toward a more diverse and "global" viewpoint, you just might want to go out on a Lark.
Now in its fourth year of business, the whimsical retail store-formerly located on Baltimore St. in between Ping's Cafe and Cafe Saint Amand-celebrated the opening of its new location on the Lincoln Square over the Fourth of July weekend, and owner Timbrel Wallace said she couldn't be happier with the turn-out.
"It was fantastic," Wallace told the Times. "It was well attended by many of my regular customers and a lot of visitors to town. We felt like we got good exposure, met a lot of new people, and everyone responded positively. We were just so happy that people seemed to enjoy it."
Wallace said she had her eye on the space, which had been empty since it was vacated by 17 on the Square Antiques nearly a year ago.
"It just seemed like a golden opportunity to me," she stated, noting the emergence of other businesses in the same vicinity, including Hauser Estate Winery's tasting room and the recently opened Gettysburg Baking Company, as well as a proposed artist's space being considered for the basement.
"When the bakery went in, I could see the potential that was here. I just thought the combination of the building and my merchandise and the other merchants around could really make it a regional draw. I kept looking at this corner of the square going, 'Something really great could happen there. It just needs the thing in the middle to tie everything together.' And I thought, 'Well, why shouldn't that be me?'"
After friends and customers encouraged her to pursue the idea, Wallace reached out to the Hausers, who own the historical building, and pitched them her idea for what she hoped would become a community hub of artistry and activity.
"They were very supportive and wonderful to work with," Wallace recalled, despite the fact that none of them were sure that she would be able to fill the space, which was more than twice the size of her older location. "It took a lot of planning. I spent months thinking about it and planning it before I even signed a lease or knew that I was going to be able to do it. But once the ideas came and my plan fell into place, I felt good about it and knew it was going to work out."
The new space boasts many of the same items that Lark is known for-from artistic picture frames and whimsical T-shirts to retro pop-art and colorful tchotchkes from around the globe-along with a healthy new sampling of items purchased from Etsy and a healthier selection of products from local businesses like Marty Mummert Studio and Mister Ed's Candy Emporium and local artists. Wallace also decided to drop the store's old tagline ("Good things for living and giving") and replace it with a new and improved one ("A modern marketplace").
"We want to be like a market, where you can go and find lots of different things by a lot of different people," Wallace explained, noting that she has made a conscious effort to offer items that she gets from small businesses that employ staffs of 10 or less and are more community-oriented.
"In my mind, those jobs that those 10 or so people have are good, fulfilling jobs. If you're working for someone who's creative and it's part of a creative process, that's probably going to be a good job. I purchased from those vendors before, but when I thought about filling this bigger space, I really wanted to focus more on that."
Having moved with her husband, Scott, from Atlanta 12 years ago to raise their children, Wallace herself has become more community-oriented, though she said she is excited to see a more global-thinking crowd frequenting her shop.
"When I first opened up, it didn't seem like people were ready for what I was offering, but I don't see that as much anymore in my store," she reported. "Honestly, the (more traditional) people aren't seeking me out. They're going to the stores that sell what they want. Who I see are the people who have worked in urban areas and who have been out and about, which is the direction the population is moving in anyway."
That shift toward diversity is one of the things that Wallace said she is very excited about contributing to with Lark. "We are hoping to be a part of that change in this area. You can certainly embrace and enjoy things from the past, and obviously that's a really important part of what makes Gettysburg so special, but at the same time, we can bring something new and valuable and interesting and positive to the community," she enthused. "We think it's a great community. The people here for the most part want to do good and make the most of the community and enjoy it, and they want to see people succeed. It's a great place to live and a great place to do business, and I love that my kids can walk to my store after school and stop at Sweet for candy and go into the library and the librarians know their names. That's what we wanted when we moved here.
"Here, you want to help your community, you want to be involved, you want to be supportive," she continued, adding she is more than happy to give back to the community that has made her feel so welcome. "I'm not just here to make money, so anything I can do with the schools or the other local businesses, I'm, like, 'Yep. Come in and I'll do what I can.'"