BLANCHARD — Joann Camp had a vision when she purchased a vacant 1860s hardware building in downtown Blanchard in spring 1986.
This vision — today’s Loafers Glory — has thrived for nearly 27 years as an indoor village of quaint shops and a bakery, restaurant and old-fashioned ice cream parlor.
That’s a big building
Before buying the building, Camp kept going back to study the layout. To her husband Alan’s dismay, she eventually contacted the owner.
Alan knew a lot about building and remodeling, as he and his brother-in-law co-owned Dewitt Lumber Company in Blanchard, where Joann also worked. He questioned her intentions.
“What do you think you’re going to do with a building that size? It’s huge,” Alan Camp said of the three-story, 5,000-square-foot structure.
Joann knew she wanted to open a craft stop.
“He finally accepted that I wasn’t giving up,” she said of her husband’s support. “I couldn’t have done it without him. He has a creative mind. A lot of what you see was done with his creativity. I just kind of stumbled through it.
“I think I made a lot of mistakes along the way,” she said. “Trial and error.”
Joann made a startling discovery, however, after taking a painting class.
“It didn’t take me very long to realize I didn’t know how I’d ever fill that building,” she said.
“It took me three days to paint a painting in the class. It was then I realized I had to bring other people in.
That’s just what she did. In addition to operating her own shop, Camp rented shops to other crafters.
Within a few years, business expanded to Auntie’s House next door, a two-story Victorian home built around 1870 by the Mason family, the original hardware store owners.
Today, shops are no longer rented. Instead, Camp’s employees manage the shops and eateries at Loafers Glory and Auntie’s House. It is, indeed, her “craft shop.”
Each shop — The Mercantile Shop, Hen House, Lamplighter Shop, Cellar Shops and Attic Treasures — features unique merchandise: antiques and collectibles, books, old-fashioned candy, greeting cards, country linens, home décor, pictures, rugs, wreaths, jewelry, candles, aromatic oils and more.
The eateries offer refreshments during shopping. Lunch in the Wildflower Tea Room Café includes salads, wraps, sandwiches, hot soup in a bread bowl and the restaurant’s famous buttermilk pie. Old-fashioned ice cream can be found at Ole’s Ice Cream.
For a takeout treat, the Sunflour Bakery — in the back corner of Loafers Glory — offers homemade breads, cookies, sweet rolls and jellies.
Hard times, perseverance
Hard times and seemingly insurmountable obstacles have presented challenges for the Camps.
In fall 2004, Alan fell 26 feet at a construction site, breaking his neck. Doctors said he’d never use his arms. Joann still remembers the call, informing her of the accident and him being airlifted to the hospital.
“I literally just walked away from here (Loafers Glory) and said, ‘I’ll see you someday,’” said Joann of her initial reaction to Alan’s injury.
Employees, friends and community members pulled together, offering prayers and help with the business during her absence. Alan beat the odds and completely recovered from the fall.
“Don’t give up,” Camp advises. “Praise God, Alan’s able to do what he can do. Life is not as easy for him as it used to be. There are things that are more difficult, thus, his need to retire from building.”
Camp attributes business success in a small town to perseverance and being able to make decisions, and yet be flexible. She knows in a recessed economy, her merchandise is considered a luxury. Although many locals frequent her business, she relies heavily on advertising.
“A small town can’t support something like this alone,” she said. “A big part of what we do is advertising to bring people in from out of the area.”
Camp will attend shows during the store’s winter closure to review new products and trends.
“I always wanted it to be a country store, but, over the years, the face of country has changed,” she said. “I’m always on the hunt for something new and unique.”
Loafers Glory is at 431 Main St. in Blanchard. It is open April through December, Tuesday to Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is scheduled to reopen April 2.