Fourth Avenue fixture Piney Hollow bids adieu - Inside Tucson Business: Profiles

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Fourth Avenue fixture Piney Hollow bids adieu

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Posted: Monday, September 1, 2008 12:00 am

Piney Hollow appears to have strung its last row of beads after a run of nearly 37 years.

Owners Mike Haggerty, 77, and wife Mimi, 76, have decided it was about time to hang it up this spring. Mike Haggerty wanted to travel and sleep late. Mimi Haggerty wanted to make jewelry on her own time at her home studio.

Daughter Shannon Harrison, who ran the store since it moved to 427 N. Fourth Ave. over two decades ago, also wants to travel and teach the craft of beadwork and silversmithing.

"It was time to move on," says Harrison, who started working with her parents as a silversmith at the age of 12. "My entire adult life has revolved around two things — beads and babies."

And her life will apparently continue on that path in a modified fashion.

Piney Hollow, so named after the ranch where Mike Haggerty grew up, is done, the business license is kaput, and the building itself has been sold to a California investor.

"We’d like to see the old shop become a boutique or something along those lines that will draw more tourists to the area," Harrison says.

As she mulls over travel brochures and exotic places to visit, she has also stayed busy opening a new business of her own, Shantu World Beads — a word derived from combining Shannon and Tucson. Shantu is teaching jewelry repair and bead stringing to help use up the remaining boxes of bead inventory.

Harrison is a walking billboard for who she is and what she does, adorned with earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and rings — more than one in each case.

"When you start out as young as I did with a fascination for sparkly things, it just grows," she says with a shrug. "Everything I wear has been made by Piney Hollow employees over the past 25 years. I also teach a City of Tucson Art and Reality class for at-risk youth and they make jewelry for me. I wear what I own — and I own lots of it."

Because it was not part of the property sale transaction, Mike Haggerty is preparing one of the store’s biggest draws — the Piney Hollow Time Line Bead Gallery — for independent sale. The museum is a collection of beadwork from around the world, some of which dates back to early Christian times.

"Dad is photographing the museum contents with the intent of selling it as he bought it, en toto, as a whole collection," Harrison says. "The Museum took up a whole room in the store. People loved it and it helped introduce them to beads and beading."

From the time the Haggertys drove their bus into town in the early 1970s - a bus that has been converted into a jewelry store for a former employee - they’ve been a part of the community.

"Mom and Dad are both sociable folks," Harrison says.

Mike Haggerty served as director of the Fourth Avenue Street Fair in the late 1980s and was a Tucson City Councilman in the early 1990s. All five siblings put in an apprenticeship in both silversmithing and beading.

"Our record in the community has been a good one," Harrison says. "When you own a small independent business, you don’t get rich, but you do make a lot of friends.

"Over the years, I’ve had the good fortune to hire wonderful people to work alongside me (affectionately referred to as Piney Hollowettes) and we’ve remained friends. I literally grew up on Fourth Avenue and watched it change over the years and while I will miss what has gotten so comfortable over the years, it feels right to take the plunge into new life-changing adventures."

Mimi Haggerty now gets to play with beads or grandchildren (there are 10 scattered from Alaska to Florida) as she sees fit.

"As each year in business rolled on, customers became old friends and our greatest loss in closing Piney Hollow is having to say goodbye to these friends," she says. "We extend our thanks for all the support and friendship. Blessings to all of you from a grateful business family."

Mike Haggerty said his good-byes for 35 years of Fourth Avenue experiences by thanking his customers and tourists from around the world for unforgettable times, and remembering the ambiance of the shop itself.

"We got the nattily dressed and well groomed from the Foothills as well as the well used and often patched clothing crowd with dyed hair and nose rings. All were welcomed as we watched the Avenue shift from the energy of the 70s to the more settled, but still enchanting, street it has become," Haggerty says. "And from my window, I’ve marveled at the disparity and variety of the American parade that went by."

With good-bye waves in unison, the Piney Hollow cast and crew also threw out a plug to the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association and an invitation to join the 250,000 visitors expected at this year’s Winter Street Fair, which will be Dec. 12-14.

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