The tin bucket

Editors Note: South Georgia Today is pleased to present this limited run series, Hahira’s Working Women. This series will focus on the amazing women who own or manage a business in Hahira, or hold a position of leadership within this small community. These articles will run twice a week until all of these amazing women have told their stories. You won’t want to miss a single one of these stories.

Along Hahira’s Main Street, between Sew Blessed and vacant buildings, rests a hidden gem. Hurried passersby may not even notice The Tin Bucket, a shop that appears to be just the average boutique. But within its doors lies a rich history that takes many Hahira citizens on a trip to the past.

Sharon Darby and Janie West opened The Tin Bucket on Dec. 1, 2005. Longtime friends, they met at church after West moved to Hahira from Jacksonville in 1977 and Darby from Cook County in 1985.

The Tin Bucket
Sharon Darby (l), Janie West (r)

Prior to The Tin Bucket, West taught home economics at Hahira Junior High School and Lowndes High School as well as preschool at the Methodist Church. Darby worked for the Cook County Board of Education before leaving the job to raise her children.

Then, they decided to do something together, even though they didn’t have any plan in particular.

According to West, it was all about “having the idea and finding the right place.” Although they can’t recall the exact moment they settled on the concept, it was likely influenced by Darby’s relationship with Jeanette Clanton, owner of Hahira’s iconic Sissy Shop. Darby worked one day a week at the Sissy Shop for a short amount of time after Clanton asked Darby if she’d like to help out around the store.

Eventually, the friends agreed on a gift shop. They had the idea—they wanted to sell gift buckets in place of the usual gift baskets—and the place but were still missing a name. When West mentioned tin buckets to Sew Blessed owner Sharon Respess, who suggested the name, the future owners realized it was perfect.

The Tin Bucket“This was a feed and seed,” West said. “An old grocery, feed and seed place. What better name?”

Older members of the community may remember The Tin Bucket as Spearman’s Grocery & Market. They can revisit the store upon walking into Darby and West’s shop where they still have grocery shelves, seed bins, and original signs hanging from the ceiling. Even the grocery counter remains in its place with the name of Spearman’s son, Robert, carved into the surface.

“[Spearman] was a person that everyone in the town knew,” Darby said. “[Patrons] come in and say they can remember coming in as a child and running their fingers through the seed bins.

For a while after opening the Tin Bucket people would pop in the back door and ask if Darby and West were buying pecans because Spearman had done so for such a long time. He was well known for this, and the signs both inside and outside of his store displayed it.
In The Tin Bucket’s 13-year lifespan, the Spearmans have expressed great gratitude for what the pair has done in keeping their family history alive. Additionally, Hahira natives have shown the same appreciation as they get to hold onto a piece of their childhood and community as they know it.

The Tin BucketNow, instead of shopping for groceries, customers can come in to browse just about everything. What originally began as a gift shop has since expanded to a boutique with women’s apparel and accessories as well as home décor. But for Darby and West, the greatest value lies in the personal relationships formed with their customers.

“If you give someone time, everyone has a story,” West said. “A lot of people just want to talk. They want someone to listen.”

Through history and listening ears, both women have created a special relationship with the Hahira community. Darby and West have helped the Spearman family history thrive by carrying sentimental pieces of history through time and have revived old memories for community members as a result. They have also formed mutual, caring relationships with their customers while providing an array of products in their shop.

As The Tin Bucket grows, its foundation remains the same. The Hahira community continues to treasure the history that lies just within the front door of the building, which is estimated to be around a century old with surrounding locations dating back to 1911. Although outsiders may not notice anything extraordinary, Sharon Darby, Janie West, and the business they’ve built together are shiny gems just waiting to be discovered.

The Tin Bucket is located at 214 West Main Street in Downtown Hahira.  Visit their Facebook page here.

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Leah Morton
Leah is an undergraduate student studying English and journalism at Valdosta State University. She has worked on one of the university’s annual publications, Odradek, as a social media editor and plans on returning as the poetry editor for the next edition. Her plans after graduation include building a career in writing and editing. Leah also has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Early Childhood Care & Education, received from Southern Regional Technical College.

1 COMMENT

  1. Sharon and Janie, thanks so much for helping keep our precious memories alive. I always enjoy coming home to visit the “store.” I know Daddy would be tickled that y’all are there keeping things going but in a wonderfully different way.

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