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Silk Gardens celebrates 20 years at downtown shop
Silk Gardens
Silk Gardens owner Terry Newcomb will celebrate 20 years of business at her E. Main Street home decor shop with a Spring Open House on March 18-19. - photo by KRISTINA HACKER / The Journal

Silk Gardens owner Terry  Newcomb remembers vividly her customers having to walk across makeshift ply board ramps to get into her E. Main Street shop during the months in 1998 that the downtown beautification project saw the entire street completely renovated. While the mess and inconvenience was a hassle, she said it was worth it.

"It's been charming," said Newcomb about the revamped downtown.

The beautification project is just one bump in the 20-year span that Silk Gardens has called downtown Turlock home.

When Newcomb opened up shop at 341 E. Main St. on March 15, 1996, she already had a loyal customer base from her 10 years of doing home decorating out of a workshop on E. Olive Avenue. The storefront was a way for customers to see her wide selection of silk arrangements.

"My vision was more just the silks, then came the artwork and the accessories and the gifts," said Newcomb about the evolution of her complete home decor shop. Although she has stayed true to the store's beginnings.

"All the arrangements, the wreaths, permanent botanicals, permanent succulents, are designed in house."

During her time as a downtown business owner, Newcomb has seen the ups and downs of the economy.

"In 1996, everyone came to downtown to shop, there was no Monte Vista Crossings. Everything was just downtown. During Thursday night farmers' markets, the stores stayed open late and the street would be packed at 7 p.m.," she said.

Newcomb said following the closing of the night market foot traffic waned and then the recession hit.

"The recession was very, very difficult. I had to cut staff, cut inventory. I also changed my inventory and added jewelry as an impulse buy," she said.

While things started to turn around in 2010, the business has changed permanently.

"It won't ever go back to the heyday," said Newcomb, who described young couples tasking her with decorating every room of their $700,000 home during the housing boom.

"There are more choices now, but also people are more judicious with their money."

Over the past few years, downtown Turlock has seen a resurgence with a number of new businesses opening up shop and the rekindling of a nightlife scene.

"I thank the stars every day for the restaurants," said Newcomb. "They don't necessarily bring business in directly, but they generate interest. Now there's a balance, you can come shop, eat and you can stroll downtown."

Silk Garden customers who come from out of town used to stop by the shop and beg Newcomb to relocate to another Valley location and now she says they make a day out of shopping and visiting Turlock.

Silk Garden will be celebrating its 20th anniversary during the store's annual Spring Open House, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. March 18 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. March 19.