By Gerhard Schneibel
gerhard@reporternewspapers.net

Walk into Prospect Gallery, a cluttered and warm business tucked away in a shopping center on Hammond Drive, and you’ll be greeted at the door by Lani, a 4-year-old mix from the Humane Society’s small dog rescue.

You’ll find toys to keep your children occupied in the corner, and you’ll find artwork, frames, tools and supplies that have accumulated in the 34 years the art and framing gallery has stood in the same location.

But sometime soon, for the first time since 1974, you won’t find founder and owner Christine Hill anymore.

Hill is planning to sell the business. Her husband recently retired, and they want to move to Florida.

“I’ve been here. I’ve been part of the community. I’ve been a contributor to the community,” she said. “I just want to pass my customers on to someone who cares. I don’t want to leave them in the lurch.”

Ellen Jeter, who joined Hill in the business in 1985, recently went into partial retirement.

“There was a Kmart nearby, but there was an area that was not developed,” Hill said of the early days of the gallery in a shopping center that used to be called Hammond Village. “There was actually wasteland across the street. I mean, I’m sure it was a developer’s dream to do something about it. We had a corner gas station that our friend Eddie [Mobley of Eddie’s Automotive] owned.”

Teresa Sissine, a longtime customer of the gallery, praised Hill’s work as she brought in some art to be framed. “She has done amazing things with artwork. A very good example is I had a $12 poster that was a collector’s item, and I brought it in to her and let her know how special it was. She matted it in suede with a copper fillet. It’s a piece of artwork now. It’s absolutely magnificent.”

Hill said: “We take little things and make them into more important things.”

Pointing to the stack of toys in a corner of the gallery, Hill reminisced about her many customers over the years.

“I have some customers who brought their children in when they were in their 30s. Now the children are bringing in their own children … and the same toys are here,” she said. “This is my life. This is where I’ve been for all these years. Like Eddie and Linda [Conner of Helen and Linda’s Salon], and all the people that are around, we’re part of the old Sandy Springs.”

She hopes to find a buyer who fits the atmosphere of the gallery and will value it.

“They will find me. I have a great belief in this,” she said. “I haven’t really openly advertised, and I’m really wishing to sell it. I don’t want some chain or something else. Some retired couple that has a dog that wants to bring their dog to work … and the husband can be a tinkerer and the wife can be a decorator-type person.”