Friday, May 3, 2019

Introducing our Design Team Decorators for Alpharetta

Introducing Shana and Melissa, our two very talented decorators for our Design Team Tuesday in Alpharetta! Beginning Tuesday, May 14th we will be offering one-on-one, complimentary design consultations from 11 to 2 EVERY Tuesday in Alpharetta. Book your complimentary one hour appointment today by calling the Alpharetta store at 678-297-7571. If possible, bring the following items to your consultation: photos & dimensions of your room, items you want to keep, measurements of areas needing furniture, artwork or lighting, paint and color scheme ideas and your design inspiration (Pinterest, magazines, photos, etc).

Meet Shana Gonzales of Vintage Bleu 72

Shana Gonzales of Vintage Bleu 72 is located on Queen and Battery St in Queen of Hearts Alpharetta. She specializes in French farmhouse decor and her dealer code is BLEU. She has been a dealer-merchant at the Queen of Hearts for 2.5 years and will be one of two featured decorators on our Design Team Tuesday. She is currently in school at New York Institute of Art and Design. One of the favorite things in her home are 3 watercolor paintings she purchased off of a street vendor in Venice, Italy. Besides her love for collecting antiques, interior decorating, and refinishing furniture with great bones, she loves to travel. She is married with 3 children, grew up in Arizona and California, and has lived Roswell, Georgia for 7 years. You can find more of her great merchandise on Facebook and Instagram.

Meet Melissa Dale of Story House Home Staging

Melissa has been married to Patrick for 18 years and has two sons, Jackson (15) and Peter (10). Originally from South Florida, the couple moved to Alpharetta in 2008 and after several moves out of state over the last 11 years, they keep coming back to their beloved Georgia! Her booth is located on Queen Street and her dealer code is STORY. Melissa's first memory of decorating a space was her 5th grade bedroom. Arranging, rearranging and decorating started at the age of 10 for Melissa and hasn't stopped since then! 

Today, Melissa is a dealer at The Queen of Hearts in Alpharetta and holds her Home Staging Certification and is also a member of the Real Estate Staging Association (RESA) and International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP). Throughout the last 20 years, Melissa has successfully designed, staged and sold many of her own homes and is excited to help you create the space of your dreams in your home. She is excited to be a part of this new opportunity at the Queen. You can find more of her great merchandise on Facebook and Instagram.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Queen Owners Stacey & Jim Anderson: A Love Story

From the owner, Stacey Anderson, about husband and co-owner Jim Anderson. "People often ask how me and my husband (and co-owner of the Queen, Jim) met. Well, here is the full story!"

My agenda for the winter of 1986 was to sit home, needlepoint and eat popcorn. Okay, and the occasional tennis lesson. Out of the blue, a friend of my mother’s asked if I was dating anyone . . . the answer was no and then I reiterated my winter agenda. She said there was a guy, named Jim Anderson, that worked for her husband and she wanted us to meet.

Well, back then we had answering machines and no cellphones. So if you missed a phone call via the landline, you would listen to the message when you got home. Well, Jim did call and left a message to call him back – BUT left no phone number. And back then the machines did not record the numbers. So for the next week, I waited patiently, for Jim to call back while adhering to my winter agenda (remember: eating popcorn and needlepointing!)

He did call back a couple of days later . . . only to ask me out for Friday and Saturday. My answer was NO, just Friday night. So he came to the door, and I looked in the peephole to see a sandy blonde haired, bearded guy. I thought "not bad" . . . I always wanted blonde and blue-eyed children. So we talked for a while at my house and then went to see The Color Purple at Phipps. And in case anyone was wondering if the date went well - yes, we did go out on Saturday night too.

Jim traveled 5 days each week for Timberland so we spent hours on the phone each night getting to know each other. Three weeks into us dating, he asked, “When are we getting married?” I said “I don’t know.” Was it sparks and fireworks? No. Was it comfortable? Yes. Did we have a lot in common? Yes. Did I want blonde, blue-eyed children? Yes . . . are you getting the picture?

We then started planning a November wedding that same year, since my mother said she did not want us to share a wedding with Christmas and we could not pull off having a double wedding with my sister, Monica, on April 19th. And yes, my mom and dad footed the tab for two weddings that year! All my friends all thought I was on the rebound having just ended a 7 year relationship. But they say... "when you know it is right, it is right!"

It was a whirlwind romance that has sustained for almost 33 years, produced two great sons - Tyler, 30 and Keaton, 28. So all I can say is that is has been, and continues to be, a great ride with a life partner that has weathered some ups and downs, including breast cancer 20 years ago, to losing parents, and everything else in between.

Our wish is for everyone to find their Valentine and then buckle up for the "ride of life" together – weathering all the ups and downs, but learning to lean on each other, growing closer everyday, and coasting into the last chapters of life together. Happy Valentine's Day, from the Queen!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Evolution of the Queen of Hearts

As most of you know, the Queen of Hearts has been in business for over 20 years. When the Alpharetta location opened with 12 dealer-merchants, Jim and I were so excited. We definitely didn’t know then what we know now – at the time, we thought we were rocking it!

Jim Anderson signing up a new dealer-merchant in 1998

By 2003 we had slowly grown to over 200 dealers in Alpharetta. We bought an established mall in East Cobb, and opened the Buford Queen within four days of each other. Can you say, risk takers?? At the time, we were also raising two boys that played travel hockey and tournament tennis. We eventually sold the East Cobb location, opened the Marietta Queen on Hwy. 5, and moved that store to its current location in 2012.

Selling space in the Marietta Queen location

Whew! What a whirlwind for the Queen of Hearts and our family. The boys ate many pizzas on the counters in the Alpharetta location and skated up and down the aisles where there was open space. They still reminisce about it and loved growing up at the “store.”

Keaton & Tyler helping set up for Grand Opening, 1998

Many customers stop me and ask, “Where is your booth?" It comes as a surprise to many that I do not have one and never have. They always ask me why. My response is that after much research before opening the Queen, Jim and I visited many malls across the country and found that the majority had owners competing with their dealers to make sales each day. In our book, that just wasn’t fair to the dealers. It was decided that we would work on a business model that serviced our dealer-merchants, making them successful. If they were successful, then the Queen would be successful.

Dealer-Merchant Training Class

Over the last 20 years, we continue to vet each and every dealer-merchant that wants to join our team. An application and photos are required, then it is determined if they'll be a great fit and have the right merchandise to be successful. We strive to provide our customers with a wide-range of merchandise in each of the stores—traditional, farmhouse, vintage, mid-century, French country and more.

Chili Cook-off in Alpharetta

The dealer-merchant relationships and friendships that have evolved over these last 20 years brings lots of joy to us. We love hearing the stories when we share in dealer events – Wine & Dines, Chili Cook-offs and Meet, Greet & Eats. We love the veteran dealer-merchant as much as the ones that are beginners. Each one brings to the table their decorating flair, their passion and their love for the Queen of Hearts. The Queen of Hearts salutes our 550 dealer-merchants - thank you for all you do!

Stacey "working" through dinner!

Stacey Anderson is the owner of all three Queen of Hearts locations in Alpharetta, Buford and Marietta. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see more from our dealer-merchants!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Gift Guide & Holiday Decorating from the Queen

It’s that time of year again . . . when everyone gets in the decorating spirit first and then moves on to choosing gifts for their friends and family second. Can you say, busy?

You might be the one in the neighborhood that “decks the halls” to the hilt, or the one that puts out your favorite decorations and calls it a day or what I like to call “Christmas Lite.” Since our boys are living out of state, we have found it very cathartic to pick out the decorations that mean the most to us and not bring down all 40 boxes from the attic. Don’t get it wrong, we thoroughly enjoy the holidays and love seeing all the decorations in our friends and family’s homes, we just take the more relaxed approach!

Now when it comes to gift giving, we might be over the top. Are you one that puts a lot of thought into it, or do you buy what is popular? Do you give gifts that you would like to receive yourself?

As you get older and wiser, we tend to give practical gifts. Some that come to mind are dishtowels, candles, glassware, and holiday themed decorations. This time of year inspires all of us to be creative with a little bit of practicality thrown in. The Queen is a great place to shop for gifts for anyone on your list!

Some of the decorating trends this year are checked bows in black/white, black/red and tan/black, frosted holly stems. Vintage Christmas ornaments and decorations are very popular this year, including those wonderful silver tinsel trees. 

How many ceramic Christmas trees do you have? Our book club holiday dinner was last week, and the hostess, Alice had three ceramic trees – all different, but what a nice look having them sitting around the room giving off the light from the tiny lights, reminding all of us our childhood.

Nature seems to be popping up in holiday decorating this year. Pine trees cut into rustic leaning Christmas trees are flying out the door to adorn mantels and tables. These paired with the checked bows make for a very homey, warm look in any home. Burlap is still in the mix pairing well with mercury glass deer and candleholders, rocking the rustic meets modern look. 

Customers always share with us their love for our wide selection of holiday décor.One dealer-merchant will display all vintage Christmas ornaments and collectibles while another will go more modern with all teal colored glass ornaments and silver bows. It is always a fun time at the Queen of Hearts with all 500+ dealer-merchants decking their booths with their versions of the holiday season!

Stacey Anderson is the owner of all three Queen of Hearts locations in Alpharetta, Buford and Marietta. Follow us on Instagram or Facebook to see more items for the holidays!

Monday, October 1, 2018

Happy Fall, Y'all! Trends at the Queen of Hearts

September brought a new season, and at the same time we celebrated the Queen of Hearts 20th anniversary. Seasons change in the blink of an eye, and years go by so fast. It seems like yesterday, Jim and I were negotiating with Ingles to take the Alpharetta location and turn it into a 33,000 square foot antique and interior mall!

From the beginning, we allowed the merchandise mix to include not only antiques, but newer merchandise as well. This has helped us survive and grow into the brand that we are - adding the Buford Queen of Hearts in 2004 and the Marietta Queen of Hearts in 2006. We put a lot of sweat and tears into this business but could not have done it without the amazing staff we’ve had along the way, the most awesome dealer-merchants ever and of course our very supportive customers that continue to return over and over to find their one of a kind unique piece(s) for their homes. We thank everyone for the continued support and dedication these last 20 years.

Now onto what is important — fall trends! Did you ever think that painted furniture would still be in the picture? Neither did we. All three locations have painting technique demonstrations each month showing the capabilities of each paint line. The trends in painted furniture tend to lean towards the grays, off whites and lighter tones. The total decorating look still seems to be in the monochromatic theme with some pops of color. Our dealer-merchants have gotten really creative in how they paint and repurpose furniture, to make sure this trend never gets stale.

The magazines are showing that “brown” furniture is still popular and can be mixed in with the painted pieces. They recommend each room have at least one very nice “antique” to ground that space. Many painted pieces leave the tops as finished wood showing the grain, therefore allowing one to appreciate the patina as well as the painted area.

On the horizon, it seems that some muted shades of blue are returning to the decorating scene. Who doesn’t love blue? Blue is such a soothing color and can be mixed in with other colors to give everyone the peace they deserve. Navy is a great color for these cooler seasons, gentle on the eye yet moody enough to be perfect for the winter months – you’re going to see it everywhere.

Right now the Queen is seeing lots of sideboards/servers go out the door — the holidays are right around the corner and the dining room better look GOOD. As always the Queen of Hearts is known for her furniture — farm tables, desks, chest of drawers, coffee tables and side tables are selling right now. Another hot item, and way to freshen up a room very easily, is oversized original artwork. All three Queen locations have great artwork from original, local artists.

Even though the south tends to stay a little warmer the first couple of months of fall, we see that Queen customers are ready and purchasing very pretty fall decor — velvet pumpkins, fall colored serving pieces, dough bowls and painted pumpkins in colors other than orange. How fun!

We hope to see you soon at the Queen of Hearts as we get ready to head into the holiday season, and hope you'll join us for our Holiday Open House in November. Happy fall, y’all!

Stacey Anderson is the owner of the Queen of Hearts Antiques & Interiors in Alpharetta, Buford & Marietta with her husband, Jim.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

20 Years of Timeless Treasures: The History of the Queen of Hearts

In 1998, before the internet gave us blogs and Pinterest and Instagram and all the other ways we get inspired to decorate our homes, there were two people with a wonderful, brilliant idea to open an antique mall in Alpharetta Georgia. Owners Jim and Stacey Anderson combined his work ethic and managerial skills with her love of antiques and mind for business to bring this idea to life. In the past 20 years, the Queen has grown from one store of 12 dealers to three stores with 550+ dealers, a staff of over 50 and robust sales each year. Talk about DIY (not to mention, couple goals!)

This year, the Queen of Hearts celebrates its 20th anniversary, with a celebration in all three stores (Alpharetta, Buford & Marietta) on September 15th, 2018, featuring outdoor shopping, food vendors, in-store live demos and gift certificate giveaways. It hasn’t been easy getting here, but Jim and Stacey will both tell you that all the hard work has definitely been worth it. Here’s their story.

Building a Brand

In 1998, Jim needed a job that would keep him off the road and closer to Stacey and their two boys, who were eight and ten years old at the time. They had a little money set aside. Jim had retail experience and had spent some time running an antique mall. Stacey had an antique collection she had begun at 16… and a calculator.

With a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Georgia, Stacey had worked for McCann Erickson Advertising for four years, but was always a natural numbers person. Jim was the visionary. With this idea in mind, the couple visited antique malls across the country and started crunching the numbers. When they discovered an Ingles grocery store sitting vacant on Main Street in Alpharetta, they recognized it as the perfect opportunity to start their store.

Queen of Hearts Alpharetta 

Jim and Stacey leased the space, hired a contractor and built out their vision for an antique mall, naming each aisle with streets from their favorite antique-shopping destination, Charleston, South Carolina. The Queen of Hearts Antiques & Interiors, they called it, because “it just sounded like a fun place to shop!” Twelve dealers committed to join them, and they hoped for more to come, incentivizing staff to bring in new dealers by offering them $50 for every dealer-merchant they could get to commit to a lease. Seven dealers are still with them today – Lynn Eckart, Fred Edwards, Joyce Haney, Mary Lawson, Jollie McCaleb, Art Metzgar and Kurt and Leslie Phillips.

Jim ran a tight ship. He handled everything from ringing up sales to advising customers, and he was a stickler for keeping staff on task. Everyone had to be on the floor and moving at all times. “Scatter!” he would command, if a group of employees congregated to talk. Employees say it is not uncommon for them to walk three to four miles during one shift! 

While running the Alpharetta store, Jim was constantly building out new areas and finding ways to rent more space. Stacey says the business is “as much about real estate as it is antiques.” In the early years, it was always Jim’s job to decide if a dealer would be good for the store. “He could pretty much tell in about 10 minutes of meeting a potential dealer whether they would be successful or not and gauge what size and location of space they needed. He was almost always right on the mark!” said Peggy Jones, a former dealer who went on to become the Alpharetta store manager and is now Director of Marketing.

The look and feel of the store was mostly Jim’s doing. He handled design and construction, as well as supplies and maintenance, in addition to managing and training the staff. Jim still attends managers’ meetings several times a year to provide perspective for the leadership of the store.

Even Cancer Can’t Stop Her

Jim and Stacey were well on their way to attaining their dream that first year when Stacey was diagnosed with breast cancer. Stacey’s response when she received the diagnosis? “I don’t have time for this. I am way too busy. This is ridiculous!” She shaved her head and said, “Let’s get rid of this, and let’s go.” In support, her whole family shaved their heads, and backed up her decision to continue working in the store alongside her husband. 

Cancer could not beat her, and after chemo and radiation, Stacey was declared cancer free. She is still a huge supporter of cancer research, donating money each year to the American Cancer Society and Susan G. Komen. In 2009, she worked a team from the Queen as hard as she works her stores, requiring mandatory eight-hour days every Saturday in preparation for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3 Day Walk, covering 12-15 miles of ground, including hills! The store hosted a “boobieque” and a “boobie bake off,” and raised a total of $27,000 for the Komen Foundation for Cancer Research. In 2015, the Queen matched customer, staff & dealer donations and gave $2,000 to the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk as well as participated at the event.

Oh Deer!

In 2001, they experienced a very different kind of setback. One morning in December, the automatic doors were left open to let the air in, but something else made its way through. A little boy spotted the large buck deer first and shouted to his mother. Soon, two men spotted him and one of them jumped up on the sales counter at the front of the store, pulling his knees to his chest for protection.

He had walked past all of the china in the front of the store without doing any harm, but one of his antlers caught something in the back, and there was a crash. Even Jim couldn’t have trained them for what to do when that happened! The brave store manager at the time, Jim Luftman, grabbed the buck by the horns to lead him out of the store. A courageous lady customer attempted to push the buck from the back. The buck…well…bucked and ran right through the glass windows at the front of the store. The police declared it an “Act of God.” 

There were a few bruises and a couple of unhappy customers, but they recouped and moved on. Stacey continued running the business behind the scenes and Jim continued working the store, each working six days a week to keep things running. And in 2003, nearly five years in, the store was completely full.

Expansion of Queen of Hearts Marietta & Buford

In May 2003, Jim and Stacey entered a partnership to buy an existing antique/interior mall in East Cobb, which was later sold in 2007. In January 2004, they built out another Ingles grocery store, which is now known as the Buford Queen of Hearts and is home to 185 dealers. In 2008, the Queen of Hearts of Marietta opened and then was relocated in 2012 to its current location with 150+ consigners and a wait list. In just 10 years since they opened in Alpharetta, the Queen had expanded to two other locations. Business was good.

As new stores opened, Jim accommodated, limiting his shifts at the Alpharetta store to three days a week, so he could spend full days in the other stores, training staff and building the business. In 2008, when the housing bubble burst, the Atlanta area was not as hard hit as in other areas of the country. But one change hit the Alpharetta store hard. The company which owned their lease sold, and the men who bought the shopping center launched a large remodeling project. They boarded up the windows and covered them with sheetrock. The roof began to leak and a tornado nearly took them out. The faithful staff (who were already wearing hardhats in an attempt to use humor to cope) mopped up leaks and waved goodbye to the dealers who did not want to remain during the rough transition. 


But when it was finished, it looked good. And the business grew…and grew.

Reaching Customers through Social Media, Store Events & Community Outreach

In the same year, the Queen ramped up its efforts on social media organically growing their followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest from a few hundred to over 20,000. Each week they share a sampling of photos from the 550+ dealer-merchants in their Weekly Feature Album, highlight fun days during the month like “Best Friends Day” and “Take Your Dog to Work Day” and love to share photos of the fun they have in the store. 

“When you love what you do, it makes working fun,” says social media manager Jenny Jones, who consults with dealer-merchants to help educate them on how to promote themselves on social media. Currently about 200 dealer-merchants have their own Facebook & Instagram pages, using them to promote Queen of Hearts events and drive customers to their booths.

In 2013, the Queen celebrated its 15th anniversary, and each year hosts quarterly events including the Holiday Open House in November, the Spring Fling Annual Garden Party (going on its 10thyear in 2019!) and Fall Harvest Sidewalk Sales. In the last 5 years they’ve also held blogger brunches, a Wedding Inspiration Expo, and hosted the team from Good Day Atlanta, Jeff Foxworthy, multiple movie production companies and local artists and authors. 

The Queen gives back to the community through their work with Cobb County DFACS, North Fulton Community Charities, and Village of Hope. Team Helping Hands with lots of “Heart” is always ready to lend a helping hand! Stacey & Jim have won awards for their stores including the Bulldog 100, City of Alpharetta Business of Excellence, Best of Gwinnett, and Best of the Big A, to name a few. They have been featured in many publications, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, CNN Living, Northside Women, Atlanta Magazine and SE Antiquing and many bloggers, decorators, realtors, and set designers have their number on speed dial.

The Queen of Hearts Today

Today, the Queen of the Queen of Hearts uses her calculator to track the figures every day: overall sales, staff hours, percent over last year, dealer-merchant sales-to-rent ratios. But she also works the floor and seems happy to sweep a floor or help a customer. “I want to be on the level of everybody,” Stacey says. Stacey and Jim have worked hard to build the stores they are now so proud of, but they have also built a family. They are close to their staff, and their staff remains loyal to them. Together, they have built something amazing. “We found this place, and we went for it,” Stacey says.

While Stacey still works about 50 hours a week, her and husband Jim try to spend some “down time” visiting their sons in Beaufort, SC and Steamboat Springs, CO. They’re excited to celebrate the last 20 years at the Anniversary celebration on September 15, 2018 with staff, dealers, customers and those who have supported them along the way! Here’s to 20 more years of the Queen!

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to Store Antiques & Collectibles

Are you an antiques lover or collector, but don’t have room in your home for all your treasures? Maybe you’ve downsized recently but can’t stand to part with items you’ve inherited or collected over the years. We feel you -- even our dealer-merchants have a hard time parting with the amazing items they bring in! After surveying our dealer-merchants and customers about where they store their antiques, collectibles and furniture, a majority of them said they store items in a basement or garage, while 11% said they opt for a storage unit. This map from Life Storage shows the average monthly cost of storage in the U.S. In Atlanta, a climate controlled unit can run you about $88 for a 5x10 space. While a basement or garage is the cheaper option, did you know that you could be harming precious items by keeping them open to the elements? Here are some simple rules and basic care consideration from owners Stacey and Jim Anderson, on how to properly store your antique furniture and collectible items.

Avoid Light

Light can harm most collectible, especially organic materials like wood, paper, and textiles. In addition to fading colors in art prints and fabrics alike, harsh light can dry out many materials and can speed up chemical reactions that occur naturally over time. All collections should be displayed away from direct sunlight. Even things that seem indestructible, like plastics, can melt when stored near a sunny window. In general, light levels should be fairly low for most collectibles so displaying them.

Control Humidity
When it comes to humidity, a good balance remains important for most antiques and collectibles. When there's not enough humidity, items like paintings, wood, and paper can shrink, crack and become very brittle. When humidity reaches excessive levels, rust can develop on metal items, mold can grow on a variety of objects, and insects are encouraged to breed.

Consider Temperatures
Fifty-six percent of people surveyed responded that they store their items in the basement or garage. These are good for short-term storage, but for long term storing, especially with organic materials like wood, paper, and cloth, you should avoid places that fluctuate in temperature. The ideal temperature for preservation is around 64 degrees. That's a little cold for most people, but keeping your home and storage areas as cool as you can afford while remaining comfortable is always suggested.

Change Climates Gradually
If you decide to change storage temperatures from hot to cold, or vice versa, do so gradually. Most antiques can be shocked when exposed to temperature extremes too quickly. For example, when exposed to extreme temperature changes the tiny cracks in the glaze of ceramics, called crazing, can appear more rapidly than they would have naturally. Glass items can crack as well when exposed to extreme temperature changes, along with glass components used in a number of different types of collectibles.

To Clean or Not to Clean
The more that fragile items are handled, the more likely they are to be broken. For this reason, they should be cleaned only as often as necessary. When you can't avoid cleaning, and sometimes you just can't when pieces have experienced years of neglect or improper storage, be as gentle as possible and use the proper tools. To assemble a basic collectibles cleaning kit, consider rounding up the following items:
  • Soft bristled brushes for dusting away loose particles 
  • A can of moisture-free compressed air for cleaning items too delicate to brush 
  • Cotton swabs 
  • Distilled water, which allows you to avoid chemicals and minerals found in tap water that can stain some materials 
  • Isopropyl alcohol comes in handy for cleaning ceramics and porcelain, as well as glazed finishes 

Avoid Excessive Handling
While it might be overkill to wear gloves while handling all your collections, it's not a bad idea to have a pair on hand for extremely fragile items. Family heirlooms, for instance, and other valuable items you want to preserve as long as possible, fall into this category.

Whether you’re a dealer-merchant or a customer, and choose to store your collectibles in a basement, workroom, storage unit or other space, please make sure to take the necessary precautions to keep your antiques in good condition! Not only does this ensure their value, but it also saves you the trouble of having to restore them down the road. Any questions? Ask our wonderful staff or visit the resources section of our website to get in touch with an expert. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see all the amazing items our dealer-merchants bring in daily!