What started out as a cozy place for family to stay when visiting Stefanie Gorman and her husband Steve, turned into an Airbnb adventure she never would have dreamed of. And the ultimate opening of two general stores she could never have imagined.
“My husband is from Michigan and I’m from the South,” says Stefanie. “We decided to build two cottages in 2013 in Leiper’s Fork so everyone would have their own space when they visited.”
Stefanie, a fifth grade teacher at Hunters Bend Elementary at the time, explains that a friend suggested she should consider putting the cottages on Airbnb so other people could enjoy them. Stefanie notes, “I put a couple of pictures of the cottages on social media and went to bed that night thinking no one would rent them. When I got up the next morning, they were rented for Saturday. The cottages have enriched our lives beyond our wildest dreams.”
She adds, “I want to bring others joy and our cottages have bought joy to so many people. We get compliments and some guests would ask where they could buy a certain item like a map we have, a pillow, or a cute stuffed animal we had in the cottage. Steve and I love meeting our guests and have been blessed with many guests returning, and we also get referrals. One guest told us, ‘This was the best experience we’ve had with Airbnb. You totally ruined us with all of the extras. Everything is so cozy and perfect.’”
“The cottages have been a blessing and allowed us to open both general store locations. Our Franklin store opened in August 2019; the Columbia store in November 2021. The stores are two very highly-curated Southern gift shops with a lot of happy gifts folks can give for birthdays, hostesses, down-in-the-dumps, and any occasion to make people feel good.” The name ‘Fork of the South’ was inspired by Stefanie and Steve’s love of Leiper’s Fork and her true love of the South.
When asked how she decided on inventory for her stores, Stefanie notes, “I just picked out things I love and went with my gut. I love finding things that bring people joy.” The Southern-inspired general stores are stocked with unique gifts for babies, kids, pets, kitchen and hosting, spa and self-care, and bar and
Stefanie left her teaching position in 2019 to focus solely on her Fork of the South cottages and general stores. “My first year out of the classroom was really hard because that was my family,” she notes. “But now with the cottages and stores, we have lots of amazing guests and customers who I see every day and it’s gotten to evolve as some of my former students have worked in the stores!”
Stefanie is a master at multi-takings, dividing her time among the Franklin and Columbia stores and her Leiper’s Fork cottages. She notes, “My husband is my biggest asset. I couldn’t do any of this without his love and support.”
Fork of the South Franklin is located at The Factory near Five Daughters. The Columbia store is at 101 North James Campbell Blvd., and Fork of the South cottages can be booked on Airbnb. ForkOfTheSouth.com