Encore Décor finds new life in a venerable shopping spot

By on September 28, 2017

Encore is in Nags Head’s Central Square Mall. (Russ Lay)

There was a time when Central Square Mall in Nags Head was a must-stop destination for visitors and locals.

The old strip center lost most of its retail business over the past two decades, but things are looking up with the addition of Encore Décor.

The store is new to Nags Head but familiar to the Southern Shores crowd, where owner Bronwyn Thornton operated for three years out of Southern Shores Crossing.

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Thornton said the move was precipitated by a desire to have a store closer to where she lives, as well as a much larger location.

She began her journey after the death of her husband, well-known developer Buck Thornton, who along with his brother Tim developed Buck Island and TimBuck II in Corolla.

What many didn’t know about Buck Thornton was that in his prior life, he was a buyer for some of the largest retail furniture chains in the south, and he had exquisite taste in the furniture and accessories that comprised his home, office and model homes.

The new store is nothing if not unique.

Visitors are greeted by a nicely stocked showroom featuring a dining room set, sofas, lamps, mirrors, a chandelier and a nice selection of smaller gifts, such as a chamois-like dishrag priced at $6.99 featuring prints of roosters, cats, and seashells.

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A china cabinet is adorned with glasses sitting atop a silver serving tray, a painted plate on a stand, wine glasses, vases and a small painting.

In an adjoining room, there’s a circa-1970-style painting of a woman in a strapless black dress, accented by a sitting chair underneath with an even more retro Pac-Man endtable off to the side.

Welcome to Bronwyn Thornton’s world.

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Thornton describes her store’s core business as “consignment furniture and accessories, but I augment that with new things. Especially here where I’m doing more ‘gifty, pick-up’ items; nothing cheesy, but more upscale items that are completely different from what everyone else has.”

When asked how she got involved in the high(er) end consignment business, Thornton related that after Buck passed, there was a lot of furniture and other items that she decided to sell.

But “there was nowhere on the Outer Banks where I could sell upscale items like that on consignment.”

So she opened her own store.

The new location takes over space formerly occupied by Mystic Antiques.

Mystic’s owners retired, and Thornton leased their old two-space unit as well as taking over two more units to create an ideal floor space for her unique offerings.

Not only will one find new furniture and slightly used items, but a vast array of accessories and other items ranging from chandeliers to wall art, mirrors, glasses, and even jewelry.

Thornton says she is very picky about what she takes in for consignment, and upscale is definitely an apt description of the items that comprise her inventory.

But classy, unique, fun and eclectic would work just as well.

So would collectibles and retro.

And one shouldn’t confuse all of this emphasis on upscale with the belief that a credit card with no limit is the ticket a shopper needs to acquire these offerings.

There are a range of prices and selections. Better yet, there’s more to Encore Décor than the core business. You’ll find it tucked into the interior rooms where 10 local vendors have stocked wares that complement Thornton’s choices for the main showroom, while also expressing their own unique attributes.

In these rooms, the fun starts all over again!

The first room I enter sports stacks of old, regional beer cans in almost mint condition from the mid-Atlantic area. Beers with labels sporting brands like Reading or Genesee.

Of course, there were old soda bottles, including quite a few brands that have long since faded into oblivion.

Then a neighbor who joined me and is also a vendor showed me an older wood piece of furniture with inlaid sections, small drawers, magazine slots on either and a larger cavity inside. Turns out it’s an old humidor that can double as an end table.

It’s not there any longer, in case you’re wondering. And no, the item wasn’t in her section.

Other areas feature depression glass, more art, embroidered ball caps, old books, more jewelry, vases, cabinets, lamps, beachy stuff, funny signs, antique signs, comic books and vinyl records and some classic Matchbox cars.

While each vendor expresses an individual style and preference, the items are not the stuff of flea markets or yards sales — and yet, the prices are Outer Banks friendly.

When asked how the vendors fit into the entire Encore scheme, Thornton says she is just as picky about which vendors and what type of merchandise she allows to be sold in her store, but she also says she wasn’t interested in vendors who had the same tastes as hers.

Thornton says her vendors have a “fabulous eye for what they do” and that makes them a perfect fit for her store.

One item to note, the vendors do not necessarily keep regular hours, and it’s more a matter of luck if one finds a vendor in the store.

Nor are these separate stores. All sales are rung up through the Encore register. And since the vendors are often absent, Thornton has become as familiar with their items as the ones she chooses herself and is of immense help in locating the many treasures hiding in the store’s vast interior.

In fact, for all the time we spent talking about quality and upscale ‘stuff’, the store is full of whimsy and adventure and serendipity.

For those wondering, this is definitely a store that the stereotypical “shopping widower” will find interesting. So, bring the menfolk along, they’ll enjoy the experience.

We stopped by on Thornton’s first day, but the place was so busy, mainly long-term customers who followed her to Nags Head, we had to wait until past Labor Day to meet with her.

This bodes well for the other stores that have been hiding along the west side of the mall, hidden from the bypass; places like Flip Your Closet, ReStyle Market, Southern Antique Soldier and others.

Christmas is right around the corner.

Location: Central Square Mall, 2910 S Croatan Highway, Nags Head, NC MP 11
252-261-6792
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Encore-D%C3%A9cor-913486765359795/

The Outer Banks Voice regularly features local businesses and restaurants in our feature sections. We do this because we feel these establishments are worth covering and we are constantly visiting new places to write about. The businesses featured offered no remuneration or any other consideration. Any sponsored content carried in the Outer Banks Voice is clearly identified as such.


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