Madison mom LeAnn Miles is using her new store, The Polished Peach, to instill life lessons into her four children while meeting the needs of customers.
Miles said she decided to open the store to mainly show her two daughters, as well as her sons, that they can do anything they put their minds to.
“Whatever you can dream it, you can do it,” Miles said.
The Polished Peach is one of the many new businesses to open in Georgia’s Lake Country, and specifically Madison, despite the coronavirus pandemic that has been plaguing the world for months now. Located in the historic former Ye Old Colonial building on the corner of S. Main St. and E. Washington St., The Polished Peach officially opened to the public on Friday, May 29.
“I didn’t pick it; it kind of picked me,” Miles said of the location.
Originally, Miles planned to open a store near their family home in Rutledge. However, after a tip from beloved Morgan County Primary School front office receptionist Cindy Stewart, Miles found herself meeting with the iconic building owner despite knowing the property was beyond her budget.
“So I met Mr. Thomas and kind of told him my budget and he said, ‘OK, sounds like a deal,’” Miles recalled.
She was in shock, saying that she signed her lease in February, right before the pandemic set in. As for Mr. Thomas, Miles said, “he has been good as gold to us.”
Upon leasing the store, Thomas presented Miles with framed pictures of the building in its former glory that now hang near the front door of the store.
“I am all about history and that’s one of the things I love about Madison,” Miles said. “I think that’s what brings a lot of our customers and patrons in is the history. It’s a very iconic building in Madison. Everyone knows about it. I wish the walls could talk. I wish that I could have seen it as a restaurant just to know. We’ve seen pictures but that’s it.”
As for the pandemic, Miles said, “how has it not affected the store?” Just after the lease was signed and her business plan was perfected, Miles said everything started to close down.
“I stayed positive,” Miles said. “I believe in faith and I believe in signs. I always say just give me a sign that I am doing the right thing, so little things would always pop up and point in the right direction.”
Determined just to fill the store with merchandise, Miles called on vendors, but many were closed and unable to fulfill orders due to the pandemic but then she would find alternative vendors. She said with a lot of retailers canceling their orders, some vendors had withdrawn orders sitting in their warehouses.
“I was like, ‘oh, no I’ll take it,’ I don’t even need to see pictures I just need stuff in my store so I can open,” Miles said.
Facebook sales were not in Miles’ original business plan, but the pandemic forced her to turn to the site because it was free and quick. Miles was blown away by the support by not only locals but from people in her hometown of Cumming.
“I sold out of pretty much everything that I had,” Miles said.
And she was able to restock before opening the store in May. During the months leading up to the opening, Miles used her creativity to intrigue customers, covering the windows with paper and writing notes like, ‘no peeking, coming May 2020.’
“It felt so good to take that paper down,” Miles said. “Being on the corner I feel like it’s the talk of town, everybody wants to know what’s going on.”
The Polished Peach offers a variety of merchandise including a large selection of children’s items.
“The children’s was a given because I am a mom of four and I know what it’s like to be a mom in Madison and not have a place to go shop for my kids,” Miles said. “Nothing against Walmart, nothing against Goody’s, but you just can’t find anything to put your kids in so that was my big focus, the children’s line and I have more coming.”
When deciding what to offer in the store, Miles said she wants all the other downtown Madison merchants to be in business as well and that there’s enough to go around for everybody so she tries to pick things that other stores don’t have.
She also turned to her family for inspiration, having her teenage son help her pick fishing shirts and carrying Texas-based small business Duck Camp’s merchandise, which she said she has been buying for her husband since the company began. The Polished Peach is the only store in Georgia to sell Duck Camp products.
Miles also prides herself on selling local products like candles and Callaway Clay Pottery, made by Madison native Joe Callaway.
“My goal is to eventually be everything American made,” Miles said. “It’s very hard when you’re in a pandemic so I cannot take that claim to fame just yet, but I’ve got a couple of lines that I would like to replace with American made just to be able to say it’s American made. There’s no real reason of why I want to do it that way, but I almost feel like in this pandemic it’s made people appreciate things a little bit differently. If there is any good that has come from it, it’s the sense of community and I really want to instill that in my store, in my business, in my family, and I want my children to know the importance of their country and their community.”
Miles said her hope is that the store is constantly changing and offering new products. She said she has a knack for rearranging the store and she wants people to feel comfortable shopping there.
She said she knows what it’s like to be a busy mom and her goal is to offer ways to meet her customers’ needs. If a customer is in need of a gift but has no time to shop, they can just call the store and she will pick them out something, send pictures, package it up and have it waiting for them when they arrive.
“If your kids want to come in, there’s nothing that cannot be replaced in this store and if it’s mom’s sanity just to get out of the house for 30 minutes, bring your kids,” Miles said. “I’ll hold them at the register, shop. I know what it’s like to be a crazy mom and I want people to feel comfortable in here.”