Bell's Owner

Melissa Bell

When I was a kid, my parents took me down to ‘the store’ a lot. In my family it was never actually called Bell’s we always just said ‘the store.’ My grandfather, then my uncle Charles owned it though all of my childhood so we were frequent visitors. To me it was an extension of my grandparent’s house. It felt like home.

I never intended to own it one day. That was never the plan. I thought I wanted to be an engineer. I graduated from Western High School in 1991 and since I loved science and math, engineering seemed like a good fit for me. I decided to go to Virginia Tech because it was just far enough away without being too far and I loved the mountains. During the first year they make all engineering students study a general curriculum to see which specialty they may like. I picked mining engineering because it combined components of all the other types and what twenty year old girl doesn’t love the idea of digging up a huge diamond? I studied mining until my junior year at which time I realized that it just wasn’t my thing. Most mining engineers work in coal mines and while I truly respect those that can do it, I knew I wasn’t cut out to work there. So after much thought it just seemed logical to change my major to business management. I still hadn’t thought about working at the store when I graduated, even though I had worked there seasonally all through high school and college as a gift wrapper.

When I graduated in the summer of 1995, my uncle Charles offered me a job. Even though I had had several other offers I liked the idea of coming home and I thought I could learn a lot from him. From that summer until the beginning of 2000 I did just about every job in the store (but my favorite is still gift wrap.) At that point Charles decided he wanted to retire and he offered me a chance to buy the store and I said yes. It seemed like such a logical choice; it still felt like home and I still had so much to learn.

Honestly, the learning is still my favorite part. I learn new things all the time. Sometimes they pertain to new products we sell or to business in general and sometimes I seek out new learning adventures like when I decided to go to massage therapy school in 2011. After eleven years I was feeling a little stifled and I had always wanted to continue my education in some way so I decided to try something totally opposite from business – little did I realize that the school I picked had a business focused curriculum. I went to Kneaded Energy School of Massage in Greensboro. I am so lucky to have an extremely supportive family and staff who made it possible for me to attend the night program classes and still keep the business running smoothly. I graduated in the spring of 2012 with the plan to incorporate massage into the store. I know it sounds crazy, but we had offered other services in the past like shoe repair and alterations, and the time for those had past, but massage is a growing field. It just made sense in my head to add it to what we already had – and I had the space in the back of the store. What better place to come get a massage than a place you were already familiar and comfortable shopping in. I am also quite honored that the directors of the massage school invited me to come back and teach business classes – it’s a great way for me to keep learning, because when you teach hopefully both you and the student learn.

If you don’t see me in the store, I could be giving a massage, teaching in Greensboro, or in Chapel Hill for my weekly day off where I usually go to a yoga class, have lunch with friends, then go to receive an acupuncture treatment (which has basically cured me of all my allergies!) But hopefully I am on the beach under an umbrella reading a book.

One last thing. If you see me walking my three crazy dogs downtown, please feel free to stop and say hi, or throw up your hand and wave.