OWENWS-02-20-21 WILLOW TREE

Jacinta Smith, owner of The Willow Tree for 27 years, is putting the business and the building up for sale to move closer to where her son lives in Tennessee.

After 27 years as owner of The Willow Tree, Jacinta Smith is ready to move on.

“I want to move closer to where my son lives in Tennessee,” she said. “But I’m not going out of business.”

Smith said people keep asking her when she’s closing.

“I’m not closing,” she said. “I’m putting the business and the building up for sale. I want to sell them together.”

When Smith opened the store on Commonwealth Court off Kentucky 54 behind Ole South Bar-B-Q in 1994, it was considered “way out in the country.”

But shopping centers have caught up with her.

In 2005, Walmart opened what was then its largest supercenter in Kentucky on Kentucky 54.

And the following year, Kohl’s opened in a shopping center across from Commonwealth Court.

That’s when Kentucky 54 really began to boom.

“Things really picked up after they came in,” Smith said.

Willow Tree, a big gift store, looks like an older home.

That’s because it is a home.

The store is on the first floor.

Smith lives on the upper floors.

“I built this place so my children could come home after school and not be alone — and I wouldn’t need a sitter,” she said. “I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but that didn’t work out.”

Smith said, “There have been a lot of struggles, a lot of ups and downs. But today, we have people who come over from Evansville and Newburgh. I really appreciate people shopping at locally owned stores and not just chains.”

The Willow Tree’s name “just feels peaceful to me,” she said.

The store features several thousand items of home decor, jewelry, candles, handbags and similar gifts.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com.

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