Debra Gray is back in the Madison Park storefront she left seven years ago to focus on family. Now, her family is in on the venture.
“Not many people like their mother-in-law enough to also be business partners, right?” said Cary Gray, co-owner of Gray & Gray Home, which had its soft opening on Thursday, May 24.
Debra Gray and her friend Dottie Pearson ran the Pearson & Gray antique shop and interior design firm for 12 years, starting in a storefront where the old British phone booth sits, she said. They later moved to a space at 4110 E. Madison St., next door to the Ewing & Clark real estate office.
Debra walked away from the business seven years ago, she said, when her children went off to college in California, and her husband was traveling a lot.
“Now, my kids are back in town, and Carly loves the same things I do,” she said, “so, round two.”
Carly and her mother-in-law took over the former Pearson & Gray space — last occupied by the Guesthouse home decor shop — in April.
“Every surface has been redone,” Carly said of the five-week renovation process, which was followed by hours of setting up Gray & Gray’s collection of antiques, jewelry, furniture and miscellaneous knick-knacks.
“It feels very comfortable,” Debra said. “It’s almost like we didn’t miss a beat.
Gray & Gray Home’s inventory includes a collection of “one-of-a-kind antiques,” acquired over the years and through various domestic and international trips, Carly said. In anticipation of the store’s opening, Carly said a lot more items were purchased, and the duo has a list of trusted painters, upholsters and carpet installers at the ready for customers’ interior design needs.
“We really just buy things that we like and things that are beautiful, and we would have in our homes,” she said.
“I think we both have the rule that, if we feel strongly enough about it, go for it,” Debra said.
Carly said her mother-in-law has added to Gray & Gray a variety of interesting religious items. On one wall hangs a collection of votive offerings Debra bought from a Roman church that was redoing its niches. They date back a hundred years, she said.
Debra said the partnership will work well, because her daughter-in-law’s friends are looking for new homes and items to fill them with, while her friends are looking to downsize.
Carly said she always wanted to open a shop like Gray & Gray.
“I never really thought I would do it at this point in my life — two kids under four — my life is already pretty crazy,” she said.
She majored in art history, and said she’s interested in the stories behind the items she finds.
“The stories that come with art are also the stories that come with furniture and antiques,” she said, “and there’s something beautiful about that.”
Carly said she wants to eventually incorporate workshops into Gray & Gray’s offerings, such as calligraphy and making floral arrangements.