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Angie and Irvin Stroud side by side in small businesses
Side by side on the court square, Strouds have bookend businesses.

Irvin and Angie Stroud work side by side.

Just not in the same building. The two stores located on the square in Clinton across from the county courthouse are in two historic buildings that have been extensively restored. Angie Stroud is the proud owner of Bella's Boutique.

Angie, shown at right, owns and operates Bella's Boutique, a shotgun store filled with blouses, dresses, leggings and jewelry. Bella's, named after Angie's granddaughter, opened in 2014 after an extensive rehab. The Strouds did much of the work themselves.

Their business hours are similar: Bella's Boutique is open from Tuesday through Friday 10-5 and Saturdays 9-12. Her husband, Irvin Stroud's shop, A Shear Blend, is open Tuesdays through Fridays 8:30 - 5 and Saturdays 8:30 to noon.

Angie has worked in retail for over twenty years in department stores. She brings to her store a willingness to try and please everyone. She says it is the hardest thing she does. But she keeps trying. She keeps her stock fresh by ordering only a few of each selection and ruthlessly moving merchandise to the sales racks if they fail to perform.

She travels twice a year to the big wholesale show in Atlanta for stock. Thirteen floors of wholesalers set up to tempt with their wares. She said the first year she went, Irvin called her and asked her what floor she was on. When she told him "the first floor" he said "Angie you are going to have to move faster."

Bella's fall line includes longer tunics this year than last. Some can be worn as dresses. Angie carries leggings that go under them. She loves showing off jewelry. This fall, strings of beads long enough to be double wrapped are the "in thing."

Angie said clothes are more casual now than when she worked at Dillards and Peebles in Mayfield. Casual tunics and leggings are not always what her customers need. She says she asks working women what they are looking for - then she tries to find them clothes that work for them. Bella's Boutique tunics

Irvin Stroud comes from a family of barbers. He's been cutting hair since 1984.

He knew early in life he wanted to follow in his father and uncles' footsteps. They persuaded him that barbering while barbering would be a good career, cosmetology would be better. He took their advice and became a cosmetologist.

Now he spends his days working at A Shear Blend, a full service barber and beauty parlor. When asked where the name came from, he said it's a hair cutting technique. His father and he had the name in mind before he opened his own shop. After working for other shops, he opened A Shear Blend in March of 1987.

His clientele ranges from a six month old infant to senior citizens. In one day, he may cut a 3rd grader boy's hair in a buzz cut, next do a color and cut for a retired teacher then finish the day trimming up a local farmer's hair whose in town on a break from harvesting corn. At right, Irvin gives long time customer Phyllis Whitlock a hair cut.

Stroud is also a musician, playing the drums in the local band Riverheart. The band practices in a rehearsal room upstairs over A Shear Blend.

"Music has always been a big part of my life."

In addition to his day job and his music avocation, Irvin Stroud is one of three Hickman County magistrates. He served first from 2003 to 2007. He was elected to a second term in 2015.

Side by side in business, the couple carves out time for themselves whenever they can. This summer they took their first vacation in some time.

Angie said "We didn't know how much we needed it."

Bella's Boutique is marketed on Facebook and by word of mouth. Someone sees an outfit they like on a coworker and comes in to shop. She recently sent several young women to Fulton to model her clothes during Banana Festival in Fulton.

Irvin does little advertising. After his many years in business, everyone locally knows where A Shear Blend is located. Nail polishing and repair and face waxing are also offered.

His customer base remains generational. Families come in and he will cut the children's hair as parents look on. Then the parents get in the barber chair for their turn while the children raid the bubble gum machine at the front of the shop.

If small business thrives on support from family and friends, Irvin and Angie Stroud may just have the perfect jobs.

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