by: Kaitlyn Conrad/ Photo and Web Editor
Walking into Persimmon Lane in Charleston, IL, one is greeted with sounds of laughter, a feeling of warmth and a plethora of vintage items. Persimmon Lane, owned and run by Duska Cornwell, is located on the square in uptown Charleston. Cornwell started collecting when her grandmother passed away and received some of her vintage items. She began going to flea markets and auctions, and her collection began to grow.
Three years ago, Jackie Tarrent, who used to run Giraffe in Charleston, told Cornwell that she was closing her shop. It got the wheels in Cornwell’s head rolling.
“I thought, well, maybe I should just give a shot,” Cornwell reminisced.
Cornwell and her husband Todd live on a missionary’s salary, as he does full-time work for Good Measure. They have made a commitment to live frugally as part of their lifestyle, so when Tarrent shot Cornwell a fair price for rent, they decided to go ahead and try it out.
About a year after opening, the Cornwells had an opportunity to move their shop to their current location, where they are now able to own their shop, as well as have Todd’s ministry office in the building and rentable apartments upstairs.
Cornwell remarked, “I always thought it would be fun to have a shop on a quaint town square, and right in our hometown we have this quaint town square…”
Cornwell’s favorite part about working and running Persimmon Lane is how it is always changing. She commented that it is really rewarding that she can reuse items to make them something new or sell to an item that has sentimental value to someone.
“We get the best feedback from people. Some of our best customers are out-of-towners.” Cornwell said she cannot believe how many college kids come in around graduation and say phrases to the effect of, “When did you guys open?” and “I didn’t know you were here.” She does love when the art students from Eastern Illinois University come in to get material for mixed media art.
The theme of redeeming something and reviving it is what makes her and her shop work together. Cornwell grew up in a Christian household where that was one of the main values and this is something she definitely takes into not only her personal life but also into her work.
“I love the continuity from my spiritual life to what I do because it’s all about second chances.”
Looking to the future of Persimmon Lane, Cornwell hopes to eventually hold little classes to work on a repurpose projects. She also wants to develop more of an online presence and start a blog.
Check out Persimmon Lane by heading to their Facebook page or by taking a walk into their store located at 510 6th Street in Charleston.