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Sprucing up Shallotte, One Home at a Time

Story By: Jo Anne Matthews
Photography By: Suzy King

Meet Lynne Carr-Wiggins

Lynne Carr-Wiggins says she didn’t intend to be an interior designer when she was growing up in Duplin County’s Wallace, N.C.

“My mother says I had the most horrible room in the world. I was a slob,” Lynne says with a laugh. “She can’t believe what I do now.”

Lynne bought the existing Island Classic Interiors in Ocean Isle Beach three years ago and uses “You talk, We listen, Beautiful happens!” as her slogan.

She always had an interest in the latest fashions and accessories but didn’t consider that industry as a career choice. At Wallace-Rose Hill High School Lynne participated in various activities, and she played for three years on the Town of Wallace softball team. Two years at James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville followed graduation, and then she accepted a job in retail accounting.

“It was boring,” she says. “I didn’t want to do that forever.”

Lynne married, and in August 1986 she and her husband moved to Brunswick County, where a job awaited him. A neighbor told Lynne about a job opening for a receptionist with custom-home builder Mark Saunders of Coastal Development & Realty. She enjoyed this work, and Saunders began to rely on her to choose what she says are “nonremovables” — brick, tile, cabinets and other permanent fixtures. He also saw that she could put colors together well.

Lynne poured herself into the job but always wondered what furniture and accessories the residents finally chose to make their homes complete.

“That was always frustrating,” she says. “I did the outside, and they did their own thing [inside].”

Lynne stayed with Coastal Development & Realty for 23 years before she bought Island Classic Interiors. She admits it is a risky venture with the building industry continuing to be stagnant.

“I decided this is the best chance I could ever get,” she says.

When she bought the business, Lynne retained two employees she considers indispensable. Pam Jones is an interior designer and labels herself, “Jill of all trades.” Al Marlowe hangs window treatments, delivers merchandise and assists in innumerable ways. Lynne concentrates on buying the merchandise.

“When I go to market, I ask if this is going to be unique in our shop,” she says. “I try to get things not everybody is going to have.”

Bamboo products, she says, are the rage in decorating right now. She also has lamps made of burlap, and a massive array of unusual throw pillows. Artificial flower arrangements, trays and bowls that have special designs are interspersed between the chairs, tables and beds. The products are arranged throughout the shop for people to browse or inspect. Lynne also offers services for total decorating. Another catch phrase she uses is “Specializing in Interiors from Conception to Completion.”

“We have the ability to put the whole package together,” she says.

While Lynne worked for Coastal Development & Realty, she had a son, Ethan Carr, now 17 and a senior at West Brunswick High School. Her marriage, however, ended, and she moved to a townhouse in Shallotte. That’s where she met Michael Wiggins, who lived across the street.

Michael, a native of Raleigh, attended North Carolina State University. One summer he went to New York to be a life guard in Greenwich. While there, he was asked to do crewing on sailboats, a pastime he knew from racing small sailboats while growing up. A man who owned one of the sailboats was impressed with him and offered him a job at the World Trade Center.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” he says.

Michael embraced the financial services industry and worked in New York for 25 years. He married and had three children but later divorced. In 2006 he retired and moved to Shallotte.

On one visit to see her son, Michael’s mother was conversing with a neighbor and said, “[Michael] needs a good Southern woman.”

The neighbor responded, “I know a good Southern woman.”

The neighbors, Sherri and Bob Plath, invited Michael and Lynne over, and the four of them went to dinner.

“He made me laugh,” Lynne says of her attraction to Michael.

“I was attracted to her Southern charm and her accent, and she’s never used a cuss word,” Michael says.

Michael invited Lynne to dinner, and the romance began. They married in 2008, the same year they bought their miniature schnauzer, Murfie. Michael is not involved with Lynne’s business except to assist with advertising. But they do play golf together and are volunteers with First Tee. Michael is past club champion at Rivers Edge Golf Club and is current president of the Rivers Edge Property Owners Association.

Lynne is active in Business Networking International and is involved with Women in Philanthropy and Leadership of Brunswick County.

Another passion of Michael’s is cooking.

“He is the best cook,” Lynne says. “He does all the cooking and all the grocery shopping. All of it. I work. He cooks. Why mess up a good thing?”

A facet of her life Lynne doesn’t ignore is religion. “My faith is very important to me, and I pray every day for the success of my business,” she says.

Lynne says the customer service, which is expressed in her slogan, and the quality of her merchandise set Island Classic Interiors apart from the chains.

“I want it to be a shop where people can come and say, ‘I didn’t realize you have such wonderful things!’” she says.

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