EMPORIUM

William Scruggs Jr., center, began selling clothing online as a hobby. Now, he and his sons, Justin, left, and William III, have opened the Fashion Emporium at 148 Moore St.

What began as a hobby for William Scruggs Jr. has blossomed into a business he and his sons have opened in Sanford.

The Fashion Emporium at 148 S. Moore St. opened in November, but the seeds were planted long before. Around 2012, Scruggs, 50, began looking for a way to get rid of things his children had accumulated through the years.

“Instead of giving it away, to be honest with you, I thought, oh, let me try to sell this stuff,” Scruggs said.

He turned to the online market and soon had developed a profitable hobby. Scruggs, who works at a drug manufacturing business, began posting the items on eBay. Most of the goods were clothing that his three children had outgrown.

He branched out and began ordering from wholesalers or distributors, eventually setting up a small business at his home.

“I had several rooms in my house, rooms where I had stored stuff,” he said.

The inventory filled spare rooms with some items hanging on racks and others in boxes. By this time, his sons, William III, 25, and Justin, 22, had joined their father in the business venture.

“It was more of a hobby,” Scruggs said. “I wouldn’t say that when I did it back then that I envisioned having a store.”

But as sales picked up and rooms filled up with inventory, Scruggs said he began thinking of opening a small business. That led him to purchase a whole building. On one side is the store that offers men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, shoes and accessories.

The other side remains empty. Scruggs and his sons, who now run the fashion shop, are considering all options. Scruggs’ daughter, Brittany, 29, helps her brothers at the store sometimes.

“I think we’re still exploring opportunities,” Scruggs said. “We’ve had a number of people approach us about different potential businesses, wanting to lease the space.”

Other ideas have some from local residents. Among the suggested businesses have been a beauty salon, a cigar lounge, a vintage furniture restoration business, a cafe, a coffee shop or even an urban grocery market.

Scruggs said he wants to see how the clothing business does before committing to a second operation in the building.

The store originally was scheduled to open in June or July, but it was delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic, Scruggs said.

“I do think, in general, it (the business) has been impacted and more people are shopping online.”

Ultimately, Scruggs said, he wants to be able to give back to the community.

“We’re hoping we can get local support and to things to help the homeless and things around the holidays to give back to the Sanford community. We’re hoping to get to that point.”