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New Owners Of Downtown Store Plan To Make Their Mark

By Cece Nunn, posted May 13, 2022
A store founded in 1999, Occasions...Just Write at the Cotton Exchange, is under new ownership. (Photo courtesy of Derek Schmidt)

At around 10 years old, Kirsten Lovan discovered a downtown store that stuck with her to adulthood. 

Lovan's family lived in downtown Wilmington, and her mother was a chef at Caffe Phoenix, a popular Front Street restaurant that closed in 2012. So Lovan grew up downtown, where a store in The Cotton Exchange at 313 N. Front St. grabbed her attention and held it.

“I remember going to Occasions...Just Write as a little girl and flipping through the wedding invitations and stationery,” said Lovan, who bought the store with her husband, Derek Schmidt, last week. 

Lovan said she wants to continue the legacy of the store, which opened in 1999 and was owned for the past 10 years by Peggy Mahan, while also making her mark. Lovan and her husband purchased the business for an undisclosed amount, and she said she plans to bring some new ideas to the business (while continuing to stock items the regulars love, including high-end pens and unique gifts).

Lovan and Schmidt have more than 10 years’ worth of experience in retail and merchandising, and Schmidt is the founder and CEO of two businesses – DesignLoud, a marketing agency founded in 2011, and SWELL Systems, a software as a service company started in 2017.

The addition of Occasions…Just Write to the couple’s portfolio of businesses will enhance Schmidt’s other endeavors, he said, allowing him to use its products and services for his needs as well as offer them to his own clients.

“There’s a correlation where we can expand our services by utilizing some of the products and services that Occasions...Just Write will offer,” Schmidt said.

The new owners plan to add gift baskets, fresh local flowers, custom invitations and thank you cards, journaling, art and school supplies, writing utensils and calligraphy, gift wrapping products and services and journaling and stationery subscription boxes.

Mahan said Friday she made the decision to sell the business because it was time "to embrace a new era." Lovan said Mahan's customers have shown their appreciation for the business.

She said, "A lot of people have come by the past week to wish her congratulations and say they are longtime supporters of the store."

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