An Interview with Erin from Circa Makers & Merchants
Downtown Easley, South Carolina
Have you ever driven down “Main Street” in a charming small town and thought to yourself what a dream it would be to own a little shop there? Meet Erin Nutz, owner of Circa Makers and Merchants. She owns one of those shops. Circa has a special place in my heart because it’s located in the heart of my hometown Easley, South Carolina.
Most of Circa’s fans might know that college brought Erin to the Upstate of South Carolina, but they may be surprised to know that she was raised on farm in Northern Ohio, in an area west of Cleveland. Something else fans might not realize is that she has a degree in Interior Design, and except for a break to be home with her adorable children, has been a working designer since she graduated from college in 1997. Once you’ve stepped in Circa, it’s clear that Erin has a great eye for design.
When I asked Erin about her design style, she explained that she believes you should fill your house with things you love, not just “stuff” to fill spaces. When hunting through all the various treasures that Circa has to offer you can really feel that each item is chosen for its aesthetic value. You won’t find trendy items, just the kind of things that are meant to be loved for a lifetime. Shoppers are curious and eclectic people who really appreciate the handmade and quirky. One shopper even noted what a great place it is to just slow down and browse or enjoy a cup of coffee and chat with other shoppers. It really is that kind of friendly neighborhood shop you’re always dreamed about.
I was surprised to find out what an unlikely chain if events led Erin to her Main Street location. She had mentioned her thoughts of opening a little shop downtown to a friend. Much later that same friend, who happened to own an empty building on Main Street, was moving away. She told Erin “We’re moving and you’re going to rent our building. I’m going to make you an offer that’s too good to turn down.” And, over five years later, the rest is history!
If you’re anywhere in the Upstate you may have heard about the fabulous classes held at Circa pre-pandemic. From ceramics, to painting, to plant projects; you name it! Erin is hoping to begin offering classes again sometime in early 2022. On the other hand, if you’ve never visited the South Carolina in your life, don’t worry you can still get that Circa special sauce in a box! Erin began offering custom curated gift boxes last summer to help her regular customers reach out to friends and family affected by lockdowns. All you need to do is give her a budget, a brief description of your recipient and Erin will curate a magical box filled with handmade and fair-trade goodness! (Be sure to follow her on Instagram! @circamakersmerchants)
For a most of my childhood, the quaint downtown area of Easley struggled with few businesses and too many empty buildings. But today Easley has become a slowly awakening sleeping beauty and Circa was one of the original businesses whose presence gave Easley the kiss of new life.