MILLEDGEVILLE — Business kicked off with a bang in 2003 for Villane Waldhauer, but she started feeling the effects of the down economy five years later when customers slowed down their purchasing habits of buying her unique jewelry and accessory pieces. Business partners Waldhauer and Susan Renfroe are in the midst of clearing out Villane’s Jewelry & Unique Accessories and will officially close the downtown boutique Saturday.
“The business grew really quickly the first few years and was doing well, until 2008 when the economy went south, and then so did the business. Things were so good, and it just stunned me the impact of the down economy. Everything just changed — the amount people bought and the frequency customers came in,” Renfroe said. “Customers would bring in their formal dress or outfits, and we would accessorize them from head to toe; that’s something I’m going to miss. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet after we close.”
A Milledgeville native and resident, Waldhauer jump-started her career as a nurse practitioner, but decided to turn her passion of creating glass beads into a full-time art business, which eventually progressed into fashion jewelry, purses, scarves and sunglasses. Waldhauer established Villane’s Jewelry & Unique Accessories in 2003 next to Amici Italian Cafe on West Hancock Street.
“At that time, I had college students working with me. From the very beginning, I made money and I was actually kind of shocked,” Waldhauer said. “Susan came on board as a business partner in 2006, and we quickly became best friends. She is a real fashionista, and we’re both buyers.”
Renfroe, also a local native, said she couldn’t find a better merchant to work for who sold one-of-a-kind products than Villane’s Jewelry and saw it as a perfect fit.