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Home and Hearth | By James Johnson

Fire never goes out of style. Since the wheel, it has been man’s go-to source for cooking and, most popularly, warmth. It is perhaps for this reason that Margaret and John Jamnick’s business, The Fireplace Place, has maintained viability for more than 30 years even here, in the steamy South. The Jamnicks opened the business in 1977, shortly after moving to Fayetteville from their home in London, where they had been the proud owners of not one but eight fireplaces. To their shock, Fayetteville could not claim a single chimney sweep. John quit his job as a computer programmer, Margaret quit her job with Putt-Putt Golf, and the couple set out to open their own chimney sweep business. It gained instant popularity due partly to the couple’s embrace of the mythical top hat and fingerless glove-wearing chimney sweep that most Americans became aware of through the 1964 Disney film “Mary Poppins.” Plus, the couple’s charming British accents didn’t hurt either. “(John) wore the chimney sweep costume, and it really helped to market the business since many people didn’t know what a chimney sweep was,” Margaret said. “But eventually we had to put the costume away. It’s actually dangerous to wear this big top hat while working in a chimney.” Soon after opening, the couple decided to try their hand at a retail location, selling chimney-related products out of their Grove Street store. “We soon began to realize that people who buy chimneys also need glass doors, grates and accessories,” said Margaret. “And of course, we sell custom fireplaces as well.” The business has had to evolve with changing tastes, such as the rising popularity of gas fireplaces over the traditional wood fireplace. “It used to be that we’d have one gas fireplace in our selection, but today they make up about eight,” Margaret said. “They really began to get popular in the 1990s. They’re less messy, and though the gas costs more than buying wood, people just like the convenience of being able to simply push a button to get fire.” Though the Jamnicks routinely saw a spike in business during the cold winter months, Fayetteville’s sticky summers were slow. Once again, The Fireplace Placed adapted. The addition of outdoor awnings keeps the phone ringing well into August. “We make the awnings and the fireplaces custom and high-end, that way Wal-Mart and Lowe’s are never really competition, because they can’t create these things custom like we can,” Margaret said. “They’ll actually suggest us to their customers.” It’s that attention to detail, plus an uncanny knack for adaptation, that keeps customers coming.