Place of employment: I own Main Street Ltd gift & home décor store. We are located in the Hollingsworth Building on the corner of East Main & Johnson Street in the Heart of Brevard. My husband, Danny and I also have a drywall contracting company and I am the bookkeeper. I am the property manager for our commercial and residential rental properties. Basically, I have three jobs!
Where did you grow up? I grew up in Rochester, NY
How did you first learn about Brevard? My Nana’s baby brother was a World War II recovering vet at the VA Hospital in Asheville. While he was there he met a beautiful nurse who just happened to be a twin from the Calvert community of Rosman. She was Margaret Whitmire and my uncle was Peter Leone. My parents came to visit them in the early 60’s and ended up buying property on the East Fork Rd. My family and I came every Easter and summers until I moved here in 1980. My folks retired to Brevard around ten years later.
Where/how did you meet your husband? I met Danny Hollingsworth through mutual friends. Since I was here every summer throughout my childhood, we both knew a lot of the same people but somehow never met each other. I think it’s all about timing and where you are in your life……
Do you have children? Yes, we have two daughters, Brittany and Mary Elizabeth. Brit lives in Durham and is almost 29 and Mary (who loves the mountains), lives in Brevard and is almost 25. We are currently raising a dear friend (like a daughter) who is a senior at Brevard High School.
How did you come to open Main Street Ltd? I was working for General Electric and had been laid off when the Hendersonville plant started outsourcing to Mexico. I started thinking about how hard I had worked for my two former employers and how it was a rollercoaster ride with employment security. I thought, “I can work hard for myself and control my destiny a lot more.” Since I always liked nice gift stores and pretty things, I decided to open a gift store.
What new things are coming to the store? NC Ray Pottery, Fragonard Perfume from France, Tokyobay watches, New Maruca handbags, Wall art signs, Company C area rugs, beautiful artistic jewelry, soft cardigans made of bamboo, spring scarves, creative cards and stationary, Blenko glass carafes, hand-woven throws, melamine dinnerware that looks just like pottery, Crabtree & Evelyn and spring Spartina handbags.
Is it true, you were one of the first people involved in starting Heart of Brevard? Yes, that is true. I opened Main Street Ltd in our home on Main Street in June of 1987. At that time we had just lost Belk, Dollar General Store, Patterson’s Dept. Store, Ayer’s General Store and tumbleweeds were blowing down Main Street. I knew then if we didn’t all get together and preserve our lovely, historical downtown we would not have one in the future. Most of the merchants got together and just kept working hard to figure out “how” was the best way to achieve our goal. Together we applied to be a part of the Main Street USA program, agreed to tax ourselves (for a secure funding source) and “The Heart of Brevard” was born. It is a volunteer effort and we’ve been working at it ever since the early 1990’s. Currently we only have 2 available store spaces downtown and I think both properties are for sale. I’m very proud of our downtown and all of us that make up the Heart of Brevard.
Why did you decide to run for City Council? My friends all get together and decided I should do this. When they first came to me with the idea, I thought, “How am I going to do that and everything else I’m doing???” I’m the type of in individual that likes to do whatever I do, WELL. Like Abe Lincoln says, “whatever you want to be, be a good one.” I juggled some things and replaced myself behind the counter at Main Street and for the most part…..all is well. I still work quite a bit at the store but I can leave and go to meetings, etc. when they arise. I am very fortunate to have a great crew at Main Street.
Is holding public office like what you thought it would be like? It is better than I thought it would be. It is an honor to serve the people of our city. My parents always taught me to “pay it forward” and our community has been so good to my family through the years. Whether is was holding us up in prayer while we were fighting for our daughter Brit’s life at UNC hospital (she was in a car accident in 2005) or supporting both Danny and I in our businesses. I genuinely care about the future of Brevard for our youth and those that will come after us and I want it to be the best that Brevard can be. I want smart decisions through listening to the people and spending money wisely. Sometimes the decisions aren’t easy or popular.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? I am a Tool & Dye Maker and I used to drive a forklift truck. I worked for two Generals……General Motors and General Electric.
What’s been the most challenging time of your life? Definitely, when Brittany was in a car accident on US 40 near Burlington, NC. It was black ice that caused it. She suffered a brain injury and a torn aorta and was unconscious at the scene. She stayed in ICU at UNC Hospitals for a month and Care Partner’s for three months. Danny spent the nights and I stayed the days with her. We are so grateful that she is with us today. Danny, Mary and I would eat dinner at Care Partners with Brit every night and then I would take Mary home. Mary went through a lot back then also. So many great friends sent us meals while we were at Chapel Hill and in Asheville. This community has a huge heart. Sometimes we don’t realize it until very bad things happen in our life and that is unfortunate.
What’s your favorite music to listen to? Van Morrison, David Gray, Nora Jones
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your free time? Walking, weight lifting, yoga and cooking for the family.
Do you have a story about standing up against odds for something you really believed in? I think a little birdie may have told you about this one! Yes, in 1987 my husband and I fought the City of Brevard and WON! Public works was directed to remove our historic brick sidewalk located in front of Main Street Ltd and our home. I woke up to a backhoe digging up the beautiful brick sidewalk that Danny and I had uncovered and edged, soon after we purchased our 1900 historic home. The operator was a young David Lutz, and I went out there with my one year old, Brittany, on my hip. I asked him what and why they were doing this and he suggested I call the City Manager, who at that time was Dee Freeman. I stood in front of the backhoe and told David to stop until I could get some answers. So with baby in one arm and portable phone in the other, I regretfully negotiated with Dee an opportunity to go before city council with my plea to preserve the historic brick sidewalk IF I got out of the way so they could finish the job. We went before council along with the former owner of the house, Mary Kathryn Denig, and the city agreed to put the sidewalk back as long as MK Denig paid the difference in cost between concrete and brick. My husband and I along with a group of dedicated friends procured the original sidewalk, bricks behind the old Ashworth home place on Probart St. They graciously said if we dug them out, we could have them. Thus my regret for getting out of the way of the backhoe….1/2 less bricks to dig out! Now David Lutz is our director of Public Services and I am on City Council. He is doing a great job and I have the upmost respect for him!!
What other names did your parents consider naming you? None…my Mom said I was an “ANN”. She liked the name to be short and sweet because she was a preschool teacher.
As a child, what TV shows did you like to watch? Happy Days, Bewitched & Brady Bunch.
What famous person inspired you the most while growing up? JFK & Martin Luther King
Do you believe in ghosts? No.
Were you ever teased by other children while growing up? Yes, a neighborhood boy had a dead mouse and he threatened to throw it on me. I ended up turning the tables on him and grabbed it and threw it back on him! He never bothered me again.
What song (or music artist) takes you back to your high school days? The Eagles and Marshall Tucker Band
What’s your favorite “de-stress” technique? Watching a great movie.
When you have out-of-town visitors come for a visit, where are some of the places you like to take them? We take them to the National Forest, DuPont State Park, Biltmore House and our local shops and restaurants.
What is something you feel too old to do? Run for exercise!
What was the last good book you read? Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
What is something you have never done that you would like to try? Attend a Van Morrison concert.
What are your dreams for the coming year? The next 5 years? I would like to travel to Europe and explore. I have been to Italy, Spain and China but would love visit other countries and Italy again. I love historic architecture, art and good food!