New business opens in West Union –
By Patricia Beech –
A new, mostly kid-oriented gift shop has opened on Courthouse Square in West Union.
Located directly across from the courthouse, the “Make a Friend” Gift Shop at 123 Main Street stocks a variety of fun and needful items, but its signature product is “Make a Friend” plush toys, which allows shoppers to create their own stuffed animals.
The shop is operated by sisters, Elsie Chaney and Beverly Kirker. Both are semi-retired from Blake’s Pharmacy in West Union and Manchester, respectively.
Kirker says the idea for the “Make a Friend” shop popped up when she and Chaney attended a Gift Shop Show for business owners in Tennessee.
“We saw the Make a Friend line and we liked it,” Kirker says. “We agreed there are a lot of kids who don’t get to do things like this, so we decided to take a chance, and so far it’s worked out very well.”
Chaney says the idea appealed to her because it provides local children a fun, affordable shopping experience.
“Other product lines are more expensive and further away,” she says. “Our customers can pick a plush animal, build it, put a heart in it, and get a backpack for $20 – you can’t beat that.”
In fact, every gift item in the shop cost $20 or less.
“I think people will be amazed at our prices,” says Chaney. “We’re not trying to get rich, this is just a little something for us to do while we’re retired.”
In addition to their plush animal “Make a Friend” line, the sisters also stock a room for girls filled with colorful Tutus and Wings, as well as useful gift items for teens and adults like sunglasses, winter wear accessories, candles, art work, purses, wallets, jewelry, and money clips.
Chaney says they’re rebuilding inventory after a busy holiday season.
“Christmas knocked us out,” she says. “But we’ve got merchandise coming in weekly to restock the store for Valentines Day, plus, we’re going to be adding new items and new lines.”
For Valentines Day, the two plan to give away an extra large gift basket filled with items for the entire family.
“Everyone who stops by the store will receive a ticket, and for every $5 they spend, they can add another ticket to the hopper,” says Chaney, who admits that selling merchandise is “in her blood.”
“I’ve retailed for 42 years for Blake’s Pharmacy,” she says. “It’s what I like, it’s what I want to do, and I like doing it for me.”
The Make a Friend Gift Shop is open Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. The shop is closed on Tuesday.