As the only employee in her shop, Michelle Duffy really means it when she says she provides “one-on-one customer service.”

Duffy, who retired from the U.S. Navy in 2009, opened Brackwater Brush Studio in Elizabeth City’s downtown almost a year ago, in December 2019.

Located at 115 North Water Street, Brackwater Brush Studio sells a mixture of antiques and vintage art as well as an assortment of new and upcycled furniture.

A popular gift item are candles made by a local artisan that come in a variety of scents and sizes. Duffy also offers gift wrap and recyclable bags.

Brackwater Brush Studio is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Duffy’s shop will also be among the many small businesses open both today on Black Friday and on Saturday for Small Business Saturday, traditionally big sale days for retail outlets.

As a one-employee shop, Brackwater Brush Studio epitomizes what Small Business Saturday is all about: personalized service. Duffy said she likes getting to know her customers and helping them locate items according to their likes and dislikes.

“I really like the fact I get to know the customers on a first name basis,” she said.


Originally from Ohio, Duffy lives in Weeksville and has been a resident of the area for more than 14 years.

While in the Navy, Duffy said she had the chance to visit a lot of places that inspired her love of the arts. A port visit to Barcelona, Spain, especially had an impact on her; she still recounts her experiences there to this day.

Duffy decided to indulge her love of the arts by creating her own mixed media art pieces. Currently none are in the shop, but whenever she brings one in they quickly sell, she said.

“Anytime I bring in my own art it sells,” Duffy said.

In addition to selling art at Brackwater Brush Studio, Duffy has started offering classes to help others make their own art. The classes are taught by herself and other artists.

One of Duffy’s favorite parts of owning her own business is designing the storefront’s windows. Duffy said she and a friend sat down and planned window displays for the entire year. They find items for the window displays from estate sales and antique shops.

Currently, the theme in Brackwater Brush Studio’s windows is the “12 Days of Christmas.” Duffy said she likes to see people’s faces as they stop to look at the windows.

For more information about Brackwater Brush Studio or future art classes, visit the store’s Facebook page or call (252) 562-6341.