Fall 2007
A Fresh Start By Patricia Norins

I have always loved makeovers—the idea of rejuvenation, of a clean start, is endlessly appealing to me. Since GIFT SHOP is about fresh new ideas and perspectives the idea of a makeover contest seemed like a natural fit.

When we announced the GIFT SHOP Ultimate Makeover Contest a few months ago, we received a wide variety of entries from across the country.

We picked Blue Hydrangea in Wickford, RI, as the winner. Sitting on the coast in Rhode Island, Wickford is a quaint historic village and Blue Hydrangea is a cozy gift store on Main Street, with a great mix of merchandise. The proprietor, Donna Trottier, has a story that speaks to many retailers. After working in the banking industry for 15 years, she decided to make a fresh start two years ago with her store, Blue Hydrangea.

She told us she sent in her application for the contest because she was ready for a new look and was looking forward to a change.

Donna is the kind of retailer who epitomizes the entrepreneurial spirit that the gift industry has been built on. She is always smiling, embraces change eagerly and is a hard worker. Her excitement and enthusiasm was perfectly complemented by Donna Kent, our visual merchandiser, who also did a fantastic job coming up with new ideas and implementations for the makeover. Donna Kent has years of experience in the field working with retail giants like Laura Ashley and Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. It says volumes about her abilities and professionalism that she was able to work in a different retail setting and still pull together a cohesive look.

Over the course of two rainy days the two Donnas (as we started calling them) went to work—hauling fixtures, hanging signs, ripping, tearing, painting, arranging and rearranging. I am proud to say the results exceeded our wildest expectations! The store looked totally new and as a customer remarked, a lot bigger than before. How delighted we were when Donna even rang up sales minutes after the “big reveal”!

We learned many lessons in those two days: You don’t need a big budget to bring about impressive results, you’ve got to be open to change, and have an understanding that someone else’s viewpoint can bring a fresh new perspective.

I hope you can apply some of our merchandiser’s ideas to your store and that you enjoy the results of GIFT SHOP’s makeover contest as much as I did. Fresh new ideas are everywhere—you just have to know where to look!

Patricia Norins
Publisher, GIFT SHOP

P.S: As always, if you would like to participate in our magazine please drop a note to Poornima Apte, our managing editor, at papte@giftshopmag.com.

Patricia Norins

Norins is the founder and publisher of two national trade magazines and two trade shows. Specialty Retail Report, the voice of the specialty retail industry (carts, kiosks and temporary in-line stores) has a readership of more than 75,000 and GIFT SHOP, the magazine for independent gift shop owners, has a readership of more than 60,000. She also serves as consultant to small independent retailers across the country.

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