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Wonderland in Natchez: New business takes off in pandemic

NATCHEZ — In the midst of a worldwide pandemic Olivina Boutique at 411 Franklin Street — a “magical wonderland” where anything can happen — opened successfully, said “the lady” of Olivina, Olivia Pate.

The shop opened in October within months of Pate’s return to Natchez from her former residence in New York where she studied to be an actress, she said.

Pate said COVID-19 prompted her to move to Natchez around June of last year and she quickly made herself at home in a new shop.

“I never had ties to Natchez before. I was born in Natchez but I was raised in Baton Rouge and then lived in New York for six years,” Pate said. “Since opening Olivina, Natchez feels like home now.”

The shop on Franklin Street used to be a bank and sat empty for some time before Lady Olivina worked her magic on the place.

Pate, who has her own language, said the empty building was “disgustifying” until she brightened it up with pink walls and a purple ceiling and an “Alice in Wonderland” inspired mural with the help of her friend and artist, Kate Lee Laird.

Pate and her mother Sue are co-owners and operators of the store, which carries decorations, accessories and gift-able items that “you can’t find anywhere else in the south,” Pate said.

The shop holds unique treasures, some practical and others eccentric — like giant eggs with ribbons on top or a life-sized unicorn.

“There are a ton of different things for different people with different tastes — for children and adults,” she said.

Pate said her mother, who is an interior decorator, inspired her more than she realized before transforming the shop.

Throughout her childhood, Pate said she subconsciously learned lessons about color and placement from her mother and was able to make those who walk through the pink door of the shop feel like they are in “a fantastical place.”

Pate said the shop has done well, even while opening during a particularly difficult time for most small business owners.

Saturdays are her favorite, Pate said, because she meets visitors from all over the world as well as some local friends who use their time off from work to pop in to say hello. Everyone who comes to the store is treated like a best friend, sometimes with macaroons or chocolates, Pate said.

“It has gone really well, which is shocking to most people,” Pate said. “After COVID, the world needed color. It was important for me to create a space where your imagination just takes you across rainbows and butterflies to a place that inspires everyone who walks through that pink door.”

The store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. More information about Olivina Boutique can be found online at olivinanatchez.com.

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