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Gift shop celebrates anniversary

Owners share tips for good sales in tough times

Posted: October 21, 2008 3:22 p.m.
Updated: December 23, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Beth Hatu and Nanette Ferrara, co-owners of McKenna & Greene in Saugus, will celebrate their store's second anniversary on Saturday.

 

In the midst of a weakened economy, gift shops are dropping like flies in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Two local gift shop owners have managed to stay afloat. Nanette Ferrara and Beth Hetu, Valencia residents and co-owners, will celebrate the second year anniversary of their store, McKenna & Greene in Saugus, on Saturday. Over the two years, they’ve discovered some ways to keep business alive.

“We’re each very involved in the community,” Hetu said. “I’m very involved in the Chamber of Commerce ... I also attend grand openings, mixers, and other events to get our name out. Nanette is in the Assistance League. We’re both involved in networking groups, so we’ve made it a prime focus.”

Besides making a name in the community, Ferrara and Hetu are very mindful of their customers.

“Nanette and Beth themselves are very special,” said Jeanine Williams, 52, who has been shopping at McKenna & Greene since it opened on Oct. 25, 2006. “They make you feel welcomed. There’s never pressure to buy which I love. You know you can just wander around and spend as much time as you want to and if you walk out without anything that’s just fine. That’s a unique thing to find, to not have someone following you around the store.”

At least four gift shops have closed this year including Vignette, Chickarita, Orchid Gift Emporium, and Cottage, according to Hetu.  “It’s quite an epidemic,” she said.

Ferrara and Hetu can especially celebrate success in light of their past career experiences. As the story on their Web site reads, “Once upon a time there were two girls with big corporate jobs. Alas, they lost their positions during a nationwide merger. ‘What will I do?’ cried Beth. ‘Where will I go?’ lamented Nanette. And so the dream of McKenna & Greene was born!” The women are now their own bosses and don’t seem worried about going under along with the rest of the gift shops anytime soon.

“I think they’re doing so well because of the handmade items they offer and the hand-crafted sterling silver jewelry is very unique and the prices are within an affordable range,” Williams said.

Everyone seems to be pinching their dollars these days but both the owners and Williams agree that there will always be a need for unique, affordable gifts.

“People still need to give a friend a gift for their birthday and you’re supporting a local community based business instead of a giant corporation,” Hetu said. “I know we’re all cutting back, but you still want to give a nice gift when the occasion arises.”

Ferrara and Hetu even find a way to give back philanthropically. “This month, we’re running a little experiment honoring three charities: Carousel Ranch, Circle of Hope, and Henry Mayo Hospital,” Hetu said. “We’ve sent email invitations to all our supporters. If they come in this month and identify a charity at check out, at the end of the month we will donate 15 percent.”

Customers can donate through Oct. 31.

McKenna & Greene is at 27951 Seco Canyon Road in Saugus.

Hetu and Ferrara will host an anniversary champagne celebration 5-8 p.m. Thursday.

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