June 18, 2015 by Rebecca McKinsey
Resting on a plaid armchair, a battered sign lists “Man Cave” rules.
They include: “Women by invitation only. Best way to be invited: Bring alcamahol; show up naked.”
It’s one of the more quirky items available for sale at Abigail Annie’s Interiors, a home decor, gift and antique shop and interiors business owned by Mardi Russell and Deb Moylan that is celebrating its 15th anniversary with an open house Friday and Saturday.
The store, located at 310 E. Main St. in Panora, is open from 9:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. During the open house Friday and Saturday, snacks and drinks will be served, and items will be available at 15 percent off.
The owners of Abigail Annie’s actually run three businesses. Russell owns Interiors By Mardi; Moylan owns Painter’s Shingle; and they both run Abigail Annie’s.
Moylan has run a painting business for 38 years. She provides interior and exterior painting, as well as wallpapering, murals, special repainting and more. She also refinishes and repurposes antique items.
She’s been painting since her dad sent her up a ladder at eight to paint a barn, she joked. Accordingly, her kids also grew up knowing what a paintbrush is.
Russell provides interior decorating: draperies, blinds, upholstery, carpet, vinyl, tile and more. She was a nurse by profession and started a decorating business in Omaha.
“I’ve always had a passion for decorating,” she said.
When Russell moved to Panora, Moylan painted her condo. The women decided to join their businesses through the shop. For a time, Moylan’s sister also worked with them, focusing on floral arrangements.
The three businesses are intertwined, Moylan and Russell said. More often than not, customers use multiple businesses at once. They’ll come to Russell for countertops and then ask Moylan to paint — and they finish off with decorating items from Abigail Annie’s.
They joked that their work together is similar to a marriage — they bounce ideas off each other, compromise and improvise.
In 2010, the business moved from a Victorian house next to Casey’s General Store in Panora to a Sears Roebuck home located across Main Street from Casey’s. The house arrived on a train in 1920 — if you look at the boards on the roof, they’re numbered, Russell said. Many times, customers start visiting the store because they’re interested in the house’s architecture, she said.
The house is sectioned off into themed rooms — including one with bedroom decor, a wine-themed room, a “man cave” with items for men, a lake-themed room and an area for garden- and farm-themed items.
Abigail Annie’s owners typically buy items at wholesale markets throughout the country. They also seek out antiques, and consign purses and greeting cards.
There are several times of the year that are particularly busy for the store.
“Christmas is our bread and butter,” Russell said.
Summer is also a hectic time.
Down the road, the women might start looking into listing items online for people who want to peruse the store’s offerings from home or from outside of Panora.
They also go into people’s homes to suggest decorating changes, and they provide decorating services for weddings, renting or selling items such as vases, chair covers and silk floral arrangements.
Over the years, the women see customers’ needs change. For instance, if someone is on their second or third home, they might want something “loud and crazy” that they didn’t have in their other two homes, Russell said.
Abigail Annie’s owners share a passion for decorating.
“I like seeing the change you can make in something,” Moylan said. “You go from something drab, like a plain, white wall and suggest a different color. That’s what makes you happy — for (customers) to see the change you can make for them.”
Courtesy of Rebecca McKinsey, Guthrie County Vedette 6/18/15.