By Wyndi Veigel
Sometimes rare opportunities are presented to local businesses and for Fiber Circle owner Diane Piwko that recently included a remodel using only local contractors and Texas made supplies.
As the recipient of a Farmersville Economic Development Corporation façade grant, Piwko and her husband, Gordon, began to make plans on a remodel to their three story downtown building, located at 200 McKinney St.
Fiber Circle specializes in selling a variety of yarns.
The 4A façade grant, she said, will match 50 percent of $50,000 that was spent. The business owners spent several thousands over that including brand new signage for the business.
The renovation opened up the original transom windows letting lots more light into the store, which is especially important for yarn where the dyes can respond to artificial light. The old aluminum awning was replaced with one more in character with the building and raised up 6 feet and the 4″ columns were enclosed in cast-iron pedestals and finials.
For safety purposes, the owners decided to relocate the support post that was on the corner, which helped opened up traffic visibility.
There were also minor repairs on the existing fire escape, including painting it, then a ramp leading to a new viewing deck above the street was also added.
The owners have also started scraping off old paint to expose ghost signs.
“If you step across the street and look closely, a Coca Cola logo can be faintly seen on Washington Street. I hope more lettering is hiding beneath the paint, especially the name of the hardware store that use to occupy this building,” Piwko said.
Perhaps the most interesting and most challenging part of the remodel was the choice to use local contractors and supplies.
“Gordon and I just felt very strongly about helping to support our neighbors and to recycle taxpayer dollars once more through the community,” she said.
It took the business owners a little searching to find someone with the experience that was needed since there was a lot of metal involved with the balcony portion of the remodel. They also made a conscious effort to use American made steel and Mueller, Inc. happened to offer one of the highest quality awning materials available while also being produced in Texas.
“The only difficulty we experienced was a delay due to the flooding that occurred this past spring and some delivery drivers that ended up in Oklahoma,” she said.
According to Garth Nutter with Outdoor Remodeling and Design, it did take a major effort on Piwko’s part to use only local contractors.
Since Nutter literally lives down the street from the building, it was important for him to get the project done right.
Nutter was the principal contractor involved in the engineering, permitting process and the finishing work.
Harvey Sisco and his son of H.W. Sisco Welding on Hwy 380 did the infrastructure work and made sure this awning will last decades longer.
“That is another advantage to using local contractors, they can see their work every time they drive the downtown square,” Piwko said.
The business owner also used the remodel to serve as an opportunity to brand her business by establishing consistent signage for the store that would lock the memory of visiting in Farmersville into customer’s minds.
“I’d been thinking about a way of conveying what Fiber Circle is about – high-end yarns, Texas, and fun – and after looking at other stores across the country, had the inspiration to put a cowboy hat on a ram,” she said. “ Darby LaGrave, a good friend and artist, was able to take my rough ideas and come up with our new store mascot, who is nicknamed Stitch. I have no doubt he will become her most famous work of art.”
For Piwko, while the remodel came with its own set of challenges, such as the business staying open throughout the process, it also came with enjoyment at seeing the process unveiling a new image piece by piece.
Her favorite stage was when the decorative elements were added to the columns, which allowed the business owners to see the overall picture and gave her faith that they were actually keeping in character with the building. This occurred about ¾ of the way though the project and things rapidly started finishing after that including the window trim, the decking and the balcony tie-in.
The husband-wife duo was also able to make their own memories during the remodel by sneaking out on the balcony one evening before it was finished to discover a more spectacular view of downtown than they had even hoped for. The couple resides on the third floor of the building while the bottom two floors house Fiber Circle.
Piwko hopes the balcony will become a new part of Farmersville tradition as a hot chocolate party and brownie party for 10 people and the rights to watch the town’s annual Christmas parade will be sold at the Old Time Saturday auction Oct. 3.
“Since this only occurs once a year, I’m hoping it raises some money for the Centennial Committee while becoming a much sought after holiday tradition around town,” Piwko said.
The business owners celebrated the recently completed renovation with their friends, family and other townspeople at a reception Aug. 6.