Watson Brooks Hall loves what she does. And, this August, she will have been doing it for 20 years right in the heart of the Collierville historic district on Mulberry.
Coming from 19 years in the corporate world at Schering Plough, Hall surprised many friends when she decided to pursue her dream of a small retail gift shop. She remembers panicking the first day she opened the doors to The Brooks Collection. “I remember thinking, ‘What have I done? I don’t know how to run a gift shop.’” But, that way of thinking wouldn’t last long. “At first I was horrified,” she remembers, thinking of the embarrassment if it wasn’t successful. “And then I told myself, ‘Nope, I’m gonna bust it!’” Indeed, she has. Twenty years and countless satisfied customers have proven her instincts right, and now she’s loving every minute of it. “I’m excited every morning.”
Describing The Brooks Collection as a lifestyle shop, Watty Hall takes great pride in the diversity of the items she offers, from imaginative bunnies produced by hand at Peter’s Pottery in the Delta to pewter items, bridal gifts, Collierville- emblazoned collectibles and a wide range of gifts to fit any budget. “I want to make sure that when a young customer comes in to shop for their mother, we have something to meet their needs and something they can afford.”
It’s all about customer service, and Watty Hall listens to her customers. “People will ask me if I carry a particular line and when I go to market twice each year, I will keep a lookout for those items.” She takes a hands-on approach to what she carries. “I never just order from catalogs. I want to see the items first, to touch them.”
Hall points out the trust she places in her full-time employees, B. J. Emerson, Loren Lewellen and Karen Conlan, who have been with the store from within a year of its opening. “We’re a family,” Hall comments fondly.
For Watson Brooks Hall, the connection to this stretch of Mulberry reaches back more than 20 years. “My father had his first pharmacy (Brooks Pharmacy) where the Raven and Lily Restaurant is,” she mentions and adds, “My great uncle James Watson Kelsey had a dry goods store right here where The Brooks Collection is.”
Hall flashes a smile, “My parents were going to name their child after my great uncle, James Watson Kelsey, whether it was a boy or girl.” And, no doubt, her great uncle would be proud to see the success his namesake, Watson Books Hall, has made of her own store.