A Touch of Country in Williamsport to close after 17-year run | Local News

WILLIAMSPORT — Diane French has seen three town administrations, watched Williamsport grow and made a lot of friends over the years.

After 17 years in business, the owner of A Touch of Country at 11 E. Potomac St. has decided it’s time to move on.

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French announced in a Facebook post last week that she is closing her shop, which was a difficult decision.

“I have truly loved the 29 years of being in the home decor/gift industry, but I have come to realize I need a change,” French said in the posting. “I will miss all of you and I hope I have brought some happiness into your lives with the decor and gifts you have purchased over the many years.”

French used to load her sport utility vehicle with candles and other housewares to sell them in private homes. She did that while working a full-time job.

French’s husband, Shane, turned to her one day and said, “I think you’d do well with a store.”

So the couple purchased 11 E. Potomac St., and French started A Touch of Country in the building in April 2002. 

The response was immediate, and the business became a popular spot for upholstered and reproduction furniture, rugs, curtains, Christmas items and other offerings. French operated her shop seven days a week when she started.

“You can’t do better than a state road in front of your store,” said French, referring to the fact that Potomac Street is also U.S. 11 through town.

French said she spent time in town with three different mayors, John Slayman being the first. Then there was James G. McCleaf II and now, Bill Green.

“I’ve seen the progress that the town has made. Slow, but progress,” said French, adding that she has been most impressed by changes along the nearby C&O Canal.

French said she remembered when McCleaf came into her store and introduced himself.

“He assured me things would get better for this town,” French said.

She eventually cut back her hours at the shop, and last year, she reduced her time to two Saturdays a month, although she boosted hours during holidays.

French said the retail world is changing, with increasing pressure for businesses to have websites and ship products. She said she thinks a similar shop in her location would continue to do well, but those demands will have to be met.

French said she wants to sell her inventory, and last Thursday, she started offering 50 percent off prices for cash sales. She is not sure when she will close the store, but it could be around March.

French said she and her husband are not sure what they are going to do with the building.

One thing French is sure about is starting anew, starting with the purchase of a 2019 Hyundai Kona, which on Sunday was parked out back, beckoning her to road adventures.

“That’s a present to me,” French said.


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