Popular Jonesborough shop 'Hands Around the World' is for sale

Jonathan Roberts • Jan 26, 2020 at 8:00 AM

After twenty years in business, an iconic shop is Jonesborough’s days may be numbered — at least under its current ownership.

“Hands Around the World” shop owner Janet Browning announced on Facebook last week that she has decided to sell the shop, telling the Johnson City Press “it was time.”

“Twenty years is a long time to watch go by, and I’m obviously older and I’m ready to retire and spend time with my grandchildren,” Browning said. “It’s time to slow down and spend more time with my family.

“It’s just that time of life, really,” Browning added.

Browning said Hands Around the World was born out of her desire to keep local and indigenous art alive, but that she never envisioned herself as a shopkeeper and didn’t think she’d enjoy it at first. Looking back though, she said she’s ‘loved every minute of having that shop.’

“I really really enjoyed (running the store); I didn’t really think that I would be a shopkeeper,” Browning said. “I honestly didn’t think I would like it but I loved it. It’s been a blessing.”

She says she’ll miss interacting with her repeat customers and the artists she works with the most, saying “they’re like family.”

“I’ll miss those relationships, although I’m sure they’ll continue in some form because I stay in touch with people on Facebook and things like that,” Browning said. “I’ll miss keeping up with old relationships and making new ones.”

The hope for Browning is that somebody will buy the shop and continue to run it as is, but that it “may or may happen.’ Ultimately, she’s ready to move on, and has been for a few months.

“If nobody wants to take the business then it’ll just be an empty shop to rent to another business, but I’m still hoping I can sell it as a business so that it can continue,” Browning said. “I’d hate to put that much time into building something up (to have nobody keep it going).”

Kati Jenkins, president of the Jonesborough Area Merchants and Service Association called Browning’s store “an anchor” and that she hopes somebody will continue what Browning started.

“Hands Around the World is an anchor in Downtown Jonesborough. It is a truly one-of-a-kind store, and a personal favorite when looking for unique gifts,” Jenkins said. “I feel Janet won't sell the business to just anyone; she will only pass it along to someone that has the same passion and love she has for global community.”

So far, Browning says she’s had a few bites and that ‘two or three’ people have expressed interest in buying the store and keeping Hands Around the World running, which she would ‘‘obviously like to see happen.’’

With her lease set to expire at the end of February, Browning said she needs to have the shop sold by then, and that if she can’t find a buyer she’ll have to liquidate the shop. Interested parties can contact Browning at (423) 737-1496. Hands Around the World is located at 111 East Main Street in downtown Jonesborough.

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