By Ross Boissoneau
The metamorphosis continues as Meg Paxton readies the Blue Maple for its debut. The one-time garage in the middle of Maple City was home to Gabe’s Country Market for decades before Paxton moved in.
She bought the 100-year-old, 5,000 square foot building in 2019 and immediately began deconstructing, then reconstructing it to fit her vision for the Teenie Weenie store, a retail shop focused on small dogs such as her own and their humans. In addition to a retail site, it will serve as a workshop for her and her sister Emily’s sewing and embroidery endeavors.
While she had ideas on how she wanted to shape the space, she also let the space help shape her plans. Start at the front, where the doors open to a foyer before welcoming shoppers and clients into an open space filled with light. Further back is a huge sliding door, which Meg calls the “pinnacle design piece” for the project. She found the large fire door online and thought it so striking she drove eight hours to Illinois to pick it up.
Hang a right just inside the entrance into a long hallway with built-in niches—perfect for displaying some of her creations and other offerings—and two rooms which house Emily’s Blue Ivy Tailoring alteration business and Meg’s own workspace. In addition to the regular doors, each room boasts a sliding half-door, perfect for keeping their canine advisors at bay when customers are in the store. In the back is another large office/workspace (home to their commercial embroidery machine), plus a large restroom.
That massive door wasn’t really part of her budget, but then again, neither was anything else. “I never looked at a budget. It will take what it takes,” she says of the endeavor. She’s served as her own general contractor as well as doing as much of the work herself as possible. That saved money (if not time), as she selected and purchased materials, laid flooring, installed drywall, painted, built shelves, trimmed out windows and niches, refinished furnishings, and more. All while filling online orders for the Teenie Weenie Store and operating Paxton Photography.
She debuted the Teenie Weenie store, a retail shop focused on small dogs and their humans, online in November 2020. It offers an array of items for long and/or low and/or just plain small dogs, from collars and leashes to sweaters, raincoats and more. A lifelong dog-lover, Meg’s venture was inspired by Althea Jayne, a piebald miniature dachshund. After Paxton adopted her (joining Cass, a golden retriever/shepherd, and Olive, a basset/beagle/dachshund mix), she tried to find her a collar, or a harness, even a sweater for those cold winter outdoor outings. But even the extra-small versions were too big for her.
So, Meg made them herself. And as Althea outgrew the pieces, she made new ones. Which turned into a light bulb moment. She started looking at other accoutrements for tiny canines, some of which she found worked. Others didn’t or the quality wasn’t there, so she made her own patterns.
Hence, the Teenie Weenie Store, online at TheTeenieWeenieStore.com, of course. The store includes her own creations and designs, as well as other hand-selected retail items, all geared toward small dogs: collars, harnesses, leashes, sweaters, scarves, bandanas, raincoats, beds, bowls, carriers, toys, treats and more. For their people, there are mugs, totes, welcome mats, and clothing items.
Still, the wedding and event photography business is Meg’s main business, especially in spring and summer. When the high season hits, her renovation has to take a bit of a back seat. That’s part of the reason the project has taken as long as it has. A knee injury and subsequent surgery slowed it as well. Plus, a building of this size and age obviously has issues, particularly when updates must meet modern codes. While she’s done the majority of the work, Paxton has hired professionals for things like electric and plumbing.
Now that most everything is done, it’s almost ready to open—right? Right? Maybe, maybe not. “Every project is an evolution,” she says. “Emily and I are talking about some ideas. But there are things to finish first.”
She’ll continue to service online customers while updating everyone on the progress via her social media. Exactly how much longer the work will take she can’t say, or even speculate. An electric “open” sign is poised to alert the world when the Blue Maple is ready to welcome customers. “When the light comes on, that’s the time it’s going to be open,” Meg says.