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Palmer unknowingly began path to owning Emmaline

Abby Palmer can remember her first visit to Emmaline when she told the original owner, the late Emily Phillips, of her dream to own a clothing store. Phillips told her there was a Trina Turk representative coming in later that afternoon and invited Palmer to view the designer’s new line with her.

She jumped on the opportunity and unknowingly began learning how to run a store that would ultimately be hers.

“It’s really weird to think back to that memory and realize that she was showing me what I’d be doing in her store years later,” Palmer said.

A native of Smyrna, Tenn., she graduated from Lipscomb University with a degree in fashion merchandising.

Upon graduation, Palmer moved to New York City where she worked for Tory Burch. Although she started low on the totem pole, Palmer worked her way up to the position of operations manager at the Tory Burch flagship store in Manhattan where she gained the majority of her knowledge on how to run a store and order supplies.

But it wasn’t a year after she moved to New York that Emmaline went up for sale in downtown Franklin.

“My mom called me and asked if I was ready to have my own store and I told her yes,” she said. “It just seemed like the perfect opportunity.”

Palmer moved back to Tennessee and took ownership of Emmaline on Jan. 1, 2008.

“I think it’s really important to create a strong vision that you can stick to,” she said, “that way, your customers know what type of style you’re going to have each season. That’s what keeps them coming back. People know what my store is about before they even get in here.”

She says the level of personal service that Emmaline offers is what makes the store unique. Many customers have become Palmer’s friends, ones who come in during the day just to “catch up.”

“Franklin is great because of the people and the community. All of the shop owners support each other, which makes it a great environment to work in,” she said.

Palmer says her inspiration for choosing clothes is based primarily on her customers. She chooses feminine and classic staples, as well as other pieces that are fashion-forward and edgy. Palmer says she doesn’t carry anything that won’t translate into everyday life but loves introducing her customers to new things.

“I’m buying for them and who they could be,” she said.

Emmaline targets women of all ages, but mostly those between 20 and 60 years old. According to Palmer, mothers and daughters alike are able to come in and shop for themselves, which is why she mostly carries pieces that are timeless.

“I do have designers that are my favorites,” she said, “and I always keep them in my store. Joie and Vince make classic, staple pieces and Diane von Furstenberg makes great party dresses. There’s also plenty of other designers that I experiment with depending on their collection for that particular season.”

In addition, Palmer now carries nearly double the amount of jewelry that she did last year. She did this to provide something for customers who don’t plan on spending much at the store.

Another recent change at Emmaline is the store’s relocation to 400 Main St.

“We just moved from two doors back because it was a chance for me to put my feel on things,” Palmer said. “Coming here was fresh and rejuvenating.”

However, she will never forget the original owner of Emmaline who reached out to her as a college freshman. Although Phillips lost her battle with breast cancer in July 2005, Palmer still strives to maintain the initial vision that the store began with.

“I want it to be like her store more than anybody’s,” Palmer said. “She started it and I will never forget the first time that I walked in there to shop. Emmaline is truly something special.”

Emmaline is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday; noon-4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, visit

Posted on: 7/3/2013


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