Saturday, October 31, 2020

Creative Housewares Abundant at Katherine Beck on the Square

By Bethell Culpepper and Caroline Langcuster interns

Downtown Oxford is filled with eateries and stores that and are supported by loyal customers, and all contribute to the lively atmosphere which makes the Square so unique and special. One Square store serves as a staple feature to downtown Oxford and is loved by many residents – Katherine Beck, located on 134 Courthouse Square.

“I bought the store in the spring of 2017 right before I was going to start my fifth year at Ole Miss… I was very oblivious to what I was getting myself into at the time,” said Mason Watkins, the sole proprietor of the store.

Owner of Katherine Beck Mason Watkins featuring Carolina the Golden. Photo provided.

The moment customers walk into the store they are greeted with the friendliest of faces, and they feel as though they have entered a store that is built on the characteristics of luxury, excellence, and the finer things of life, while maintaining a homey and comfortable atmosphere.

“Katherine Beck was opened to provide Oxford with gifts, home décor, and jewelry to create a contemporary, southern feel along with classic touches,” Watkins said.

The COVID-19 crisis caused Watkins to close her doors, but she continues to reach out to customers through online orders funneled through the website. Curbside pickup, free in-town delivery, and appointments upon request are also offered. Exciting and new pieces are always popping up.

Watkins knew she was meant to purchase the store, even though she was not completely aware of the challenges she could face. She shared insight on the different aspects of what it is like running and owning a small and local business.

“It was very hard to try to have a life balance at home. I was working 12-14 hours a day and wasn’t eating, seeing my family or friends. I will say the most important part to help you balance everything is having amazing employees you trust and care about,” she said.

She has worked hard through the years to provide Oxford with unique and chic items for the home. 

Annie Glass is on her featured merchandise line. Photo provided.

“I never want to have something you will see everywhere; I want new, trendy items. I hope my customers see the originality of Katherine Beck and its uniqueness that I work so hard for,” Watkins said. Katherine Beck represents lines such as; handcrafted Annie Glass, Julie Vos jewelry, and everything in between.

Watkins goes above and beyond to make sure her store is filled with special items that appeal to teenage girls, young and older women.

“Their unique merchandise makes me keep coming back and always wanting to buy more,” said Anna Kathyrn Moody, a local and loyal customer.

Watkins said she wants her store to represent her originality and creativity.

“I am all about spending money on quality and classic items you will keep forever, but also having fun, trendy items to mix in,” she said.

Katherine Beck never fails to offer its patrons new gifts for every occasion. Rush is an extremely busy time at Katherine Beck because they make gifts and rush “happies” called bid day baskets. These baskets are specialized and filled with items representing which sorority the student is joining. This idea is very popular and useful during the rush season, not only for the women who are rushing but for their mothers and close friends.

Watkins said her favorite designer showpieces in the store are a tough toss-up between Burton Designs and Bliss Studio. These interior designers are original, and their items are carried in the store year-round.

“I can only imagine how boring it would be to have the same items over and over again, and how boring that must be for the customer. This is also why we have customers that come back year after year because we are always designing new merchandise,” Watkins said.

Watkins enjoys spicing up her store by never repeating the same pieces. She wants everyone to love what is sold in her store and for her clientele to feel welcomed as they walk through Katherine Beck’s doors.