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The Shop on Ray is now open

Longtime friends Janet Ambrose and Cindy VanCleave, both moms of three and former military spouses, have opened The Shop on Ray. Located in downtown Carthage, the shop is a celebration for their love for small towns and vintage finds.

Owners Janet Ambrose and Cindy VanCleave

After looking for years for a building to rent, Janet finally found a space. They decided to take the leap around Thanksgiving 2021, and begin creating The Shop on Ray.

“We’re just empty nesters with a dream,” they say. 

Janet has had booths at festivals such as the Cameron Antique festival and has collected relics for years, a hobby the former school teacher is turning into her full time gig. She finds pieces from all over to fill the store. 

Cindy began what she calls Honor Trunks out of her garage. With Janet’s help with finding the trunks, she repurposes them into keepsakes for retired military members. She adds in shadow boxes with awards, patches, berets, etc. and then lines the bottom part of the trunk with cedar to keep old uniforms or whatever else someone may have in it. 

“A lot of people don’t know what to do with their old stuff but they’re proud of it. It’s a great way to showcase some of it in one spot without it all being an eyesore,” she says. You can find honor trunks ready for your memorabilia at The Shop on Ray, or Cindy will customize them for you. 

They didn’t want the shop to be just one thing — a trend we noticed is becoming more prevalent in shops. “There hasn’t really been anywhere in carthage for gifts,” says Cindy, “it’ll be nice for someone to come on their lunch hour to pick up a little something for someone instead of driving out of town.”

The shop holds a medley of repurposed items, housewares, candles, gifts, t-shirts, and vintage finds. The duo try to stock the store with goods made in America, and also try to seek out veteran-owned companies. Local artisans’ work is marked by a flag tag.

The two are excited for the future of their shop, as they get more inventory and as Carthage continues to bloom. They have received lots of support from the community as well. “There’s a big wave of renovations happening in Carthage,” says Cindy. “It’s exciting for us small town girls,” adds Janet. 

The ladies love to chat so go in and say hello. You’ll feel like you stepped straight into a hallmark movie. The Shop on Ray will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wed. – Sat. at 101 S Ray St. Carthage.

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