POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. -- Gift boutiques are on the decline, especially locally-owned ones, which is partly why Jennifer Tell is so passionate about her Poughkeepsie shop, Sierra Lily , especially as Valentine's Day approaches.
"All Hudson Valley residents should shop with us," she said. "We live in a time where malls are nothing but chain clothing stores and the chances of finding something unique and special there is slim to none, so we're definitely worth the drive."
Tell said her store prides itself on personalized service and out of the box products. Throw in free gift wrapping/gift bagging all year long, not to mention an inventory full of 40 "Made in the USA" companies.
There's also a healthy component. In 2016 Tell put a special emphasis on only carrying natural skincare bath and body items. She's proud to feature items from three local lines made in Highland, Pleasant Valley, and Gardiner.
As for Valentine's Day, Tell said customers will find lots of hearts. That includes jewelry with everything from dainty hearts to big hearts, to everything in between.
"The beauty of being a small independently owned and run business is that I have the freedom and excitement in finding all these great, small undiscovered companies out there," she said.
"There are no rules. I have no one telling me what I can or cannot sell. I find great joy in showcasing awesome, beautiful, quality products that most consumers would not find elsewhere. We have something for everyone."
Sierra Lily also takes its location seriously by partnering with a variety of local charities to raise awareness while also raising monies and creating buzz about the importance of shopping local.
"In 2016, we partnered with six Hudson Valley charities for in-store events," said Tell. "We donated over $3,500 back to our community. Where else are you shopping that is doing that?"
The key to success, she said, is loving what you do. "When you have a passion and drive nothing can stop it. Not even your kids," she said though she admitted her children inspire and push her ahead.
"I want this business to make it to a third generation one day," said the second-generation store owner -- her mom and stepdad owned the store originally.
"The juggling isn't always easy but I've learned to hire the right people for the job so that they are able to deliver what I expect of them."
The other key to longevity -- -Sierra Lily has been in business for 40 years (see earlier Daily Voice story HERE ) --- is making sure your employees love working for you too.
"Behind every successful business is happy employees that feel valued and respected for their hard work," stressed Tell. "It takes a team."
Sierra Lily is at 1955 South Rd., (845) 297-1684, www.sierralily.com .
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.