by Michael Salerno
For Hometown News
PORT ORANGE - When John and Loraine Foulston decided to start a business in the Daytona Beach area, jewelry wasn't the first thing on their mind.
The couple behind Loraine's Fashion Jewelry and Accessories, a costume and fashion jewelry boutique in the Pavilion at Port Orange, originally set their sights on opening up a restaurant, following a successful restaurant franchise venture in their native England.
Mr. Foulston said his business partner, Gene Simonetti, suggested the current business climate wasn't favorable for a new restaurant business. Mr. Simonetti recommended the Foulstons open a boutique devoted to costume jewelry and fashion jewelry after learning a similar business was performing very well in Naples.
"We took his advice and made him (Mr. Simonetti) a shareholder," Mr. Foulston said.
Business has been a part of the Foulstons' lives since the late 1960s, well before opening Loraine's in Port Orange and beginning their restaurant franchise in England. Mr. Foulston said he established the first general building company in England, and was also involved in businesses including waste disposal, closed-circuit televisions, and drainage.
"We've been used to business all our lives," Ms. Foulston said. "It keeps us mentally young."
Loraine's opened in May 2010. The shop, which employs six to seven employees depending on the season, was designed to cater to women and girls of all ages.
"We have items for infants all the way up to more mature ladies," said Karen Turner, buyer and visual coordinator.
The Foulstons chose to operate their business out of the Pavilion because they believed it was a "promising location," although they expected more shops to be located in the area that immediately surrounds them behind the back entrance of Belk.
"But it pushes us to be more creative," Ms. Turner said. "It's been a challenge for us."
What's also proven to be a challenge for the business is the economic climate, as people have less money to spend, Mr. Foulston said.
The challenge seems to be paying off well for them. The Foulstons said the shop receives at least 20 customers per day, many of them being very loyal customers. And the more customers they have, merchandise turns around faster, with the inventory at Loraine's changing by the week.
"We tell our customers, if you see something you like, buy it now," Ms. Turner said. "It might not be there (next time you come in)."
When the business started out, it was mostly "low-end costume jewelry," Mr. Foulston said. The shop now has higher quality merchandise, including name-brand jewelry, handbags and accessories and items created by local artists.
"The store has evolved from what it was when it first started," Ms. Turner said.
The Foulstons, who have been Port Orange residents since 1985, said they are actively involved in the community to get the word out about the shop. Ms. Turner said Loraine's has participated in fundraisers for local civic organizations and elementary and middle schools.
Mr. Foulston said he feels Loraine's has done well despite the difficult economic conditions, feeling a sense of confidence because his accountant strongly believes in the business.
"It has a better chance of success due to the economic climate," Mr. Foulston said.
Loraine's Fashion Jewelry and Accessories is 5501 South Williamson Blvd., Suite 500, Port Orange. For more information, call (386) 756-9535.