For Betty Rollinson and Deborah Robertson, the Friends Two name is perfect for the gift and craft store they run on Warrenton’s Main Street. Not only are they long-time friends, but they also share a long crafting job, especially projects they can work on together.
The store, which is located in the former Hunter Drug Company building, opened in 2010 about a month after longtime Hunter pharmacist Alpheus “Doc” Jones, Jr.
Rollinson and Robertson both worked for the Hunter Drug Company. Today they worked together in the Main Street building for 31 years, if you factor in your days as the Hunter Drug Company and Friends Two.
The friends attribute the idea of opening a gift shop to Doc Jones. You also attribute the naming of the company to him. Rollinson and Robertson were trying to narrow down a list of potential names when Doc suggested “Friends Two”. The name “Two Friends” was on Robertson’s list.
Friends Two has built a reputation for being the right address since 2010 when you want an orange tinge, want to start a knitting or crochet project, need a greeting card, or need a special gift.
Customers also love to stop by to see what Rollinson and Robertson have made. They sell a variety of their handmade or hand-painted crafts at Friends Two. Popular items are aprons and baby blankets. When what a customer wants is out of stock, Rollinson and Robertson try to find the color and fabric they want.
The two friends often take orders for memory quilts made from a loved one’s clothes and t-shirt quilts.
Everyday objects such as jugs, bottles and saws become unique canvases for paintings.
Even items that other people want to throw away can become decorative pieces in the hands of Robertson and Rollinson. Recently, someone gave them a collection of Christmas decorations (balls) and another gave them a large wreath of artificial greenery. The two friends glued 140 balls of different sizes together with other decorative items to the wreath, transforming it into a colorful, sparkling work of art, perfect for the door or wall.
People who like to knit or crochet also love Friends Two, regardless of the level. The store stocks yarn, knitting needles, crochet hooks, and more. Customers are welcome to bring their work to the store, sit down at a table and spend time with other craftsmen. Rollinson and Robertson often take part. They are ready to help when needed.
Friends Two also carries flags, jewelry, wind chimes, soaps, knives, greeting cards and other gift items.
The soda fountain, originally made by the Hunter Drug Company, is still near the front door. Customers can still get vanilla cola, oranges, sodas, ice cream, and milkshakes. Rollinson and Robertson use the same milkshake machine and juicer they have been using for years and are likely original in the store.
Orangeads are the most popular treat, but there is one customer who stops by for butter pecan ice cream while vacationing in the Lake Gaston area.
Friends Two had to adjust during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic and shut down for about a month before reopening with fewer hours of operation. During the pandemic, even when the store was closed, Rollinson and Robertson sewed masks and made over 3,000.
At a time when more and more people are shopping online, Friends Two specializes in offering items that may be difficult to find online in an environment where customers feel like they are among friends.
“Business has slowed down a bit because of the internet and online ordering, but we still have loyal customers who come no matter what. That means a lot, ”said Rollinson.
While many customers are from Warren County, people from other areas in North Carolina and other states, including Maryland, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, stop by when they’re in the area. A customer always comes around Christmas. Another comes in to buy soap when vacationing in the area.
When asked what they enjoy most about running Friends Two, Rollinson and Robertson both replied, “the people” at the same time.
“Someone came in and said, ‘You know everyone and they know you,'” Robertson said.
“If you make a quilt and you know how much it means to you, I love it,” said Rollinson.
New and long-time customers love Rollinson and Robertson, two friends who make them feel like part of the family when they walk through the doors of Friends Two.
Friends Two at 126 S. Main St., Warrenton, is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, call 252-257-1604 or visit the store’s Facebook page.