The moment you step inside One of Each Gifts, you know the holiday shopping season is in full swing. A large decorated Christmas tree greets you and an entire back wall is dedicated to a wide range of sparkling holiday ornaments. The sweet scents of scented-reed diffusers and Tyler candles fill the air while soft music plays in the background. Owner Jonathan Brown is already cheerfully helping several customers as one shopper browses jewelry racks while another checks out his holiday cards and stationery offerings. A third customer asks him for free gift-wrapping of her purchases of Thymes fine English soaps and lotions for later pick-up. The smiling, dynamic owner clearly enjoys working with his customers and retail gifts are in his blood as his mother ran another local gift shop for years. Mr. Brown notes that his mother, who recently turned 89, just retired after providing years of “good insight on buying for the shop” and serving as the store’s premier gift wrapper.
The busy gift boutique has been in operation for about 8½ years, with an initial shop at the corner of Park and King Streets. Mr. Brown’s successful venture outgrew that space and he moved his store to Five Points about four years ago. As an Avondale resident, he wanted to keep his shop close to home and likes the “village environment of Five Points, which is more like an old-fashioned downtown with lots of foot traffic” and where friendly neighborhood shop owners help each other out. Many years ago, his feisty mother once chained herself along with others across May Street to block the bulldozing of brick cobblestones to help the area retain some of its historic charm.
The Jacksonville native previously ran another retail store and restaurant before opening his own gift shop because he felt “there was an unmet need in the neighborhood.” With a wealth of business experience, Mr. Brown advises new entrepreneurs “to keep it simple” and “follow your bliss” in deciding what business to start. He warns enthusiastic new owners “not to spread themselves too thin” but to add on later as your business progresses. He also thinks it’s important to “have fun and have a good sense of humor, and laugh it off or else go nutty.”
In this challenging economy, the retailer thinks his “value-oriented gifts” which offer good quality items at reasonable prices will bring in shoppers. This season, he has found that people are buying lots of holiday ornaments and scented candles for friends and co-workers, especially scented “Diva” candle jars. Costume jewelry has also been a very popular gift choice. As the weather begins to cool down, colorful Pashmina scarves and shawls are also in demand. For men, he has seen decorative golf balls and humorous novelty gums becoming favorite stocking stuffers. After the holiday season, he advises bargain-hunters to watch for those after-Christmas sales as his shop regularly turns over its stock and décor to suit every season and major holiday.
–Bridges DelPonte, http://www.bridgesdelponte.com