Smyrna/Clayton Sun-Times
  • French Hen brings shabby chic flair to downtown Smyrna

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  • Rustic wooden picture frames. Vintage scarves and jewelry. Artwork. These are a sample of the items customers will find in downtown Smyrna business, The French Hen.
    The French Hen is located at 20 E. Commerce St.
    Open for about 14 months, the boutique offers up an eclectic mix of goods that are described as being vintage and shabby chic with a touch of French country flair.
    Boutique owner Gail Young has been slowly growing the shop since she quietly opened in Nov. 2011. Young, who lives in Middletown, said opening her own business was never actually a dream and instead was born out of her interests.
    "I've just always been very artsy and very interested in the arts," Young said. "I love to decorate. I like to collect things so this was kind of natural."
    When customers walk in to The French Hen, they'll find a variety of goods including repurposed finds, aprons, dishtowels, jewelry, and much more.
    Originally hoping to open a shop in Newark, Young eventually found her way down to Smyrna.
    "I met with the owners and I just fell in love with this building," Young said. "I felt it probably wouldn't have a ton of foot traffic, but it just has such charm to it."
    To get the goods for her shop, Young said she shops at places such as flea markets, salvages, art shows and even travels to find the right goods for her store.
    "I just go all over trying to find different items you don't find at other places," she said.
    Young even sells the artwork made by her daughter, Brianna Shetlzer, who is a kindergarten art teacher in the Appoquinimink School District.
    Eventually Young, who works full time as a billing manager for a company, hopes to expand enough to hire someone for during the day. She is even thinking about selling a furniture line. Young also enjoys decorating and can be brought on to decorate corporate offices.
    Thus far, Young said the local customers have been great and they love the boutique. She's just been trying to get the word out to bring in people from out of town to the shop.
    "The people down here have been wonderful and very welcoming. I just couldn't say enough good things about them," Young said.
    She also really enjoys having a shop in Smyrna. Having grown up in Newark, Young and her husband moved to Middletown to raise their children and loved the benefits of raising a family in a small town.
    "I just like the small-town atmosphere. Smyrna is just such a charming town and I do very much enjoy being a part of that," Young said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com.
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