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story.lead_photo.caption Craig Lindholm of Winnsboro, Texas, helps his fiancée, Becky Wilbanks, open her new Merle Norman and Ashley Bryant Boutique in downtown Atlanta, Texas. The chandelier and window doors are finds from nearby antique stores.

After more than 50 years in Atlanta, Merle Norman Studio has a new setting to match its beauty cosmetics' reputation.

The location is 119 E. Main St. That's up a few storefronts from 111 E. Main where Merle Norman was for many of those years.

The driving force behind this is new owner Becky Wilbanks. She's purchased the building as well and has remodeled and expanded the front and interior.

Nelda Rowell is also on the appreciation list. She's the courteous manager of Merle Norman, for whom she has been a beauty consultant for 46 years.

Longtime Merle Norman employee Nelda Rowell is busy helping a customer prepare to attend an upcoming wedding ceremony.

"Becky has added Ashley Bryant Boutique, and the new room you see developing in the middle is going to be a surprise. She has some wonderful ideas," Rowell said.

Merle Norman's new surroundings have local artwork on the wall—a restored traditional chandelier hanging from the ceiling and a blend of black-and-white strips that opens the front of the building with a clean-and-stylish appearance.

Its Revere pewter gray walls and flooring is different and tasteful.

"These are all Becky's ideas. She has incredible taste," said Craig Lindholm, Wilbanks' fiance, who was helping move things around in the store.

Like Wilbanks, who is also Cass County's county judge, Lindholm is deeply involved in public service as city manager for the town of Winnsboro, Texas. He has some definite ideas about the importance of enthusiasm and encouragement of local entrepreneurs.

Merle Norman's new location is 119 E. Main St. in Atlanta, Texas. It also has a striking new look design by owner Becky Wilbanks.

"This store is a real gem in downtown Atlanta, equal to what you might find in larger-area cities," Lindholm began.

"But the importance of it all is that such effort builds community. We're working together, supporting our schools and community, not for just today but for our grandchildren tomorrow."

Lindholm said he believes a resurgence is happening in small towns, and many people from big cities are preferring to live in the rural areas for the quality of life.

"If we invest our time, treasure and volunteerism, set aside differences and work together, we'll bless each other. It's not just for our own personal interests but for the future. That's what leadership and investment such as this store is about," he said.

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