For the past 23 years, a local mother and daughter duo have worked together to operate two small businesses in the Longview community — The Blue Door Antiques and Pen and Company on Alpine Road.
Francye Phillips, mother to Shannon Guttry, began working for The Blue Door in 1982, four years after its opening in 1978. Phillips says she purchased the antique shop from its previous owner, Marjorie Presley, when Presley retired in 1985. Phillips has owned and operated the store ever since.
“As a young mother and wife, I had always been interested in collecting furniture for my home,” Phillips said, “and I became very interested in the antique look — particularly the English antique look.”
The Blue Door specializes in selling English antiques and accessories, Asian accent pieces, estate and fashion jewelry and quality gift items. Phillips says she takes pride in the way the store reflects her own personal taste, despite having to adapt to various changes in trends and interests throughout the years.
“In my opinion, you don’t have to have a house full of antiques,” Phillips said. “But it’s lovely just to have something old and unique — something that has a story behind it.”
Phillips says one of her favorite things about owning a small business is getting to meet other members of the community. She says people from across East Texas have come to visit her store, all the way from Nagadoches, Lufkin and even Shreveport, Louisiana.
“A lot of people who have come to shop here I may never have known, had they not stopped in,” Phillips said.
Phillips says she thoroughly enjoys helping customers figure out exactly what they’re looking for, whether it’s a certain item or more general idea, like a wall arrangement.
“I guess I consider myself a people person and I enjoy all ranges of styles and interests,” she said.
Since 1990, The Blue Door Antiques has shared a space with Pen and Company, which specializes in custom printing orders such as wedding, graduation, anniversary and specialty party invitations. The shop also offers personalized paper items and stationary, plus an extensive gift selection which includes personalized John Hart luggage, Kate Spade accessories and the Sugarfina candy line.
In 1995, Phillips became a partner with Pen and Company and in 1997, Guttry followed suit.
“Shannon is really the force behind Pen and Company,” Phillips says of her daughter, “whereas I am kind of jumping back and forth between (the two businesses).”
Phillips says her children grew up seeing her work in the retail business, and she says that might have inspired Guttry to do the same.
“(Shannon) is an interior design major with a degree from the University of Texas at Austin,” Phillips said. “She worked in the design business for several years, and then when she moved back to Longview and there was an opportunity to buy a partnership in Pen and Company, she thought from a design standpoint of creating invitations and personalized items, that she would like to do that.”
Phillips says it is a gift to be able to see and work with one of her children every day.
“But we do kind of do our own thing,” Phillips said. “I know what Shannon does best and then I do the other things.”
Currently, the Blue Door Antiques and Pen and Company are following strict social distancing guidelines, encouraging customers to wear masks and stay six feet apart from one another while shopping. They’re also taking telephone and text orders and seeing people by appointment only, if requested.
“We’re certainly sorry that this situation has arisen in the United States,” Phillips says. “But it’s here and it is what it is and we are trying to adapt.”
Phillips has an education degree from Louisiana State University, but she says she’s an antique dealer at heart.
“This just sort of grabbed me,” Phillips said. “I love it.”
Phillips says being a woman in business sets a good example for younger generations and makes one a more interesting person.
“I think of women now who are in the medical fields and in the justice system, who are in higher positions of education and academics and government,” Phillips says, “and I think it is fabulous to see women in those areas, because we have so much to offer. Women usually have a softer side.”