By Lanier Laney
Beaufort native Janet Mark had no idea that long stints on her husband’s boat, salmon fishing during summers in Alaska, would lead to her opening one of Beaufort’s most iconic stores.
“My husband is a commercial salmon fisherman in Kenai, Alaska, and I used to go with him every summer for the salmon season,” Janet said. “All of the fisherman’s wives in our group had creative projects going all the time. One summer I learned how to rubber stamp and enjoyed creating beautiful cards, plus we stamped on shirts, hats and anything that we could for our guys.
When I returned to Beaufort after the season, I began to look for art rubber stamps and could not find any for sale in Beaufort, so I decided to start Carolina Stamper to sell them. I was running one of our Christmas Tree Farms when I opened Carolina Stamper in a consignment store (so I could continue to go to Alaska) and, boy, was I surprised each time I went to the store to check what was happening. The stamps were selling like hotcakes. People then wanted to know what to do with the stamps so I started giving classes, and the rest is history. It has been almost 16 years!” (She started the business in 1997)
Janet says, “We provide a creative outlet for those interested in making their own invitations, announcements, jewelry, scrapbooks and enjoy spending time with other crafters in a class. We send our class schedule out via e-mail and post it on Facebook. Customers call or come in to give their e-mail address. I invite anyone interested to sign up!”
Carolina Stamper is also known as having, according to Janet, “the most incredible line of decorative papers for scrapbooking, card-making and now lots of people are coordinating the paper with the colors in their homes and framing them for artwork. We also make personal stamps. We can make some stamps in the shop and more detailed images are sent to another company that will make the stamp. Customers come into the store and provide the information for the self-inking stamps we make in-house.”
Janet’s beloved parents are Rose and Ernest Mark, owners of Mark Furniture. Rose Mark is retired and still living in Beaufort. Says Janet, “Rose (Mama) helps me at Carolina Stamper and my brother, Larry, at the furniture store, when we need her.”
Janet met her husband, Milledge Morris, when they were both teenagers. “I knew my husband in high school,” she explained. “I always thought he was cute and he said ‘I was next on his list.’ We went our separate ways after school and college and ran into each other years later and starting dating and have been happily married now for 33 years.”
Her husband has been a Christmas Tree farmer for 30 years, as well as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and a jack of all trades.
“He has remodeled our home, fixes whatever needs repair and spends endless hours working on the Christmas Tree Farm and our wooden boat,” Janet said.
Together they have one daughter, JoAnn, who lives Florida and works for State Farm Insurance in management. She graduated from the University of Florida after attending Beaufort Academy and Beaufort High School.
Carolina Stamper has been fortunate to have a loyal base of customers — locally and from afar. People who travel from north to south and south to north stop by every year when they pass through.
Janet says, “Customers refer to Carolina Stamper as the most comprehensive scrapbook and art rubber stamp store in the Southeast. In this time of the ‘new norm’ it is so important for those living here to shop locally. The local businesses are so appreciative of their customers and try hard to accommodate them. In my type of business it is so important to know your product, which requires trying the product and understanding how it applies to the art medium you are using. We take pride in providing great customer service. My parents taught me as a young child and young lady to always treat everyone equally, be present in your business, be honest and respectful and to share with the less fortunate. I have followed this philosophy throughout my life.”
Janet works with one full time employee, whom she calls one of the greatest employees ever. “Sharon Rourk is so wonderful with the customers and her product knowledge is endless. She’s always here by my side and I am so lucky and grateful for her presence,” said Janet.
Both women said that at this particular time of year they are helping individuals create their own hand-stamped Christmas cards, scrapbook and jewelry for gift giving.
Janet welcomes all those wanting to cultivate their creativity to “come on in and let us help get you started.”