Four and a half years ago, fate came knocking at Tina Coats’ door with the opportunity to purchase So Inviting Gifts.
Tina had worked as a nurse for years, then (and still) as a real estate agent, but she had always wanted to own a gift shop.
“It just sounded like something fun that I wanted to try. I’ve always liked buying neat trinkets for my house, and I always liked giving gifts to people,” she says.
The chance to own So Inviting Gifts “just kind of fell into my lap,” she explains. “I wasn’t really looking.” But it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
Although the job description of a gift-shop owner may not seem to have much in common with that of a nurse or realtor, Tina says she’s definitely been able to bring her previous experience over to this job.
“Helping take care of people, catering to people and their needs - those are things that carried over to this. Everyone wants good customer service. If I walk into a store, I feel better if I know someone is genuinely wanting to help me versus just trying to make a sale.”
That’s why customer service is one of Tina’s top priorities at her shop. She and her staff strive to go above and beyond when it comes to helping customers find (or customize) the perfect gift.
So what exactly can you find at the store? So Inviting Gifts offers a range of items for a range of occasions: high-end dish lines and home decor, but also a selection of everyday trinkets that anyone would love. They sell stationery, stuffed animals, and spirited Razorback gear. Brides can order wedding invitations through the store, as well as register for their big day. Tina says they also do a lot of custom gifts by adding personalization or monogramming.
And she knows first hand just how meaningful a gift can be. “My husband gave me a ring for our fifth wedding anniversary. It’s got five little tiny diamond chips - one for each year - because we started out dirt poor. So that ring has more meaning than anything. I still wear it every day. I’ve had to have it redone a couple times because it’s just a little bitty thin thing with diamond chips.”
A gift is something you may treasure for years, especially when it’s something like a wedding gift or comes from that special someone. Seeing joy on her customer’s faces when they find that perfect treasure is what keeps Tina pushing through the hard times.
“It’s so worth it anytime an excited bride comes in and sees her wedding invitations or when her dishes come in and they’re set up on tables so she can see them all. It’s fulfilling seeing a bride so thrilled.”
The hardest part of owning a small business? Competing with big box stores and a certain online e-commerce powerhouse.
“These days, people primarily think about convenience when they shop. That’s why now you can go on my website and pick out something and we’ll deliver it, we’ll have it ready so you can just run in and pick it up or we’ll deliver it. We deliver to bridal showers. Shopping local doesn’t have to be inconvenient.
I don’t think people think about how much shopping local benefits the community. Sales tax, for example, that pays for teachers and firemen and police officers, and your streets and all that stuff too. It helps the whole community in general when people shop local.”
Next time you need to do some gift shopping - or restaurant hopping or nail saloning - choose LOCAL! Towny makes it a breeze to browse locally-owned business in Northwest Arkansas and to earn perks for doing so. Check out So Inviting Gifts on Towny or explore other local businesses online or download the free app to your mobile phone.