Photos by Jamie Alexander
Willow and Pine Market owner Anne Higgins knows the sentimentality behind dinnerware and serving pieces—they can bring people together and they are often passed down from our parents and their parents.
“A serving platter, a beautiful bowl…they connect us with each other and through the generations,” she said. “They are the witnesses to all our special gatherings and celebrations.”
And it is this love of dishes, passed down from her mother and grandmother, that brought Higgins to open a “dish boutique.” She began with an online store offering Polish pottery, and the demand for the colorful and unique patterns grew quickly.
In May 2020, she opened a storefront so people could see these curated pieces. Higgins said that as she talked to customers, requests for kitchen and baking items made her realize she needed a bigger space.
Her new space, located at 126 W. 2nd St, opened six months later, and allowed her to expand to offering over 50 brands of kitchen, tabletop, home and gift items.
Higgins said that items in her store fall into two categories: beautiful and practical.
“I look for things that I know will bring joy to my customers and will become treasured family pieces, such as hand-painted Italian ceramics, Polish pottery and European table linens,” she said. “I also know how much families enjoy cooking and baking together, so I look for practical kitchen tools and baking accessories.”
The pottery and ceramics are brands from places where Higgins had traveled in Europe, as well as brands that are mostly European and unique to Owensboro. Her inspiration for additions to inventory comes from social media influencers who share her passion for beautiful table settings, pottery and ceramics.
The kitchen and baking area has grown the most in her 2,400 square-foot store, although customers looking through the picturesque windows will see the table settings, pottery and ceramics that serve as inspiration for others.
“Family is at the heart of everything I do,” Higgins said. “Memories of holidays and celebrations spent as a child, as well as countless meals shared around our very large kitchen table were my inspiration for Willow and Pine Market.”
And family has been part of creating—and continuing—this market, as well as the money she originally invested, which came from the selling of her childhood home in Kansas.
“I decided to honor my parents’ legacy by investing in my dream,” she said. Her husband and children have been part of the plan since the beginning, and her youngest daughter is working in the store full-time this summer.
“It’s such a joy to share this experience with her,” Higgins said.
Higgins’ customers make her the happiest with her business, and she enjoys getting to know them and helping them find the right piece of pottery or the perfect gift.
“Some of my customers have become good friends,” she said. “I’ve also reconnected with friends from our time in the military and from my home state of Kansas who have ordered through my website.”
Higgins opened Willow and Pine Market virtually in April 2020, thanks to social media, which Higgins said is a great tool for small businesses and was vital during COVID shutdowns.
But finally having COVID restrictions lifted has allowed the shop to become more a part of the downtown culture.
“Because I am on the corner, with so many windows, I get to see people walking, shopping, and enjoying their lunch outside. People visiting our city walk down from the hotels and stop in. People who live downtown come in and chat,” she said. “It’s almost an idyllic setting and is the perfect fit.”
The wedding registry is growing, and Higgins said she is being intentional about the product lines she is bringing in that can appeal to modern brides and grooms. She also works with local realtors to provide closing gifts and will soon offer home staging services, especially kitchen and tabletop.
“It’s my hope that Willow and Pine continues to be Owensboro’s ‘happy place,’” she said.