Cindy Hudak always dreamed of owning her own gift shop and, when she brought the idea to her loving and supportive husband, Jimmy, he encouraged her to go for it. Cindy couldn’t be happier that she did and neither could the people of Mountaintop, who have already frequented her new store, Boxes & Bows, Gifts and More…, expressing their excitement that they now can shop for gifts locally.
“We have an amazing community here,” related Cindy. “Everyone has been very supportive of the small businesses here and that’s huge.” Of realizing her dream of owning a gift shop, she went on, “I’m so happy. I know it sounds silly, but the saying is true. If you do something that you love, you never have to work a day in your life.”
Cindy really was glowing with joy as she stood behind the counter of her beautiful new shop, located in the Top of the Mountain plaza on Route 309. The holiday spirit was also alive at Boxes & Bows as Christmas music played softly and several faux pine trees, covered in festive ornaments and white lights adorned the shop. The aroma in the store was equally inviting as fragrant candles, one of the more popular items Cindy sells, flickered.
Cindy’s first experience in the business began when she was in high school and worked at a Hallmark store. She loved the merchandise and daydreamed of owning her own shop. That didn’t come to fruition as Cindy’s life got busy, having a daughter, Samantha, and working to put herself through college. After school, she took a position at financial company Sallie Mae and stayed there 19 years.
Cindy made the difficult decision to leave the corporate world when her son, Casey, now three, was born. She worked as a stay-at-home mom and had another child, daughter Aislinn, who’s now a year old. Thinking of her love of working at Hallmark and of the dream she always had to own a gift shop herself, Cindy mentioned the idea to her husband. Jimmy encouraged her to do it and, she said, it never could have happened without his support.
The first step in the endeavor was Internet research. Cindy investigated what types of products traditional gift shops carry and connected with sales representatives about stocking her shelves. Much of Cindy’s knowledge on how to get started came from an out-of-town woman she met who was retiring after running a successful gift shop for 30 years. “She was invaluable to me, a real mentor,” Cindy related. Not only did the shop owner give Cindy a wealth of advice, she sold the display racks and other framework from her store to Boxes & Bows.
Cindy and Jimmy agreed it was a good idea to start a gift shop in Mountaintop because there isn’t another store like this on the mountain. She recalled peeking in the window of what would become the store’s location, in the Route 309 plaza. It all happened quickly, she said, as she signed a lease and immediately began shopping for merchandise.
Before Boxes & Bows opened in August, “Coming Soon” signs were placed outside the space and it was advertised on Facebook. People were constantly asking Cindy when the store would open and have been supportive of the business since its start.
“We’ve been busy. It’s been really good,” Cindy remarked. “There hasn’t been one day that we haven’t had a customer.” Countless patrons have come into the store, telling Cindy that their friends recommended that they shop there. She also feels camaraderie with her customers, she said, as she’s made friendships with regular patrons. The shop is a family affair, too, as Samantha, now 22, aids her mother whenever she can and the littlest members of the family are always willing to help Cindy arrange shiny new items on the shelves. One-year-old Aislinn’s favorite are the bracelets, her mother said with a smile.
Both Black Friday and Small Business Saturday were busy days, Cindy continued, as the Christmas shopping season is in full swing. In addition to holiday ornaments and décor, customers at Boxes & Bows can find scarves, wallets, jewelry, candles and soaps, baby and wedding gifts, jams, teas, dishware, and more.
Boxes & Bows is open each weekday, 11 a. m. to 7 p. m.; Saturdays, 10 a. m. to 5 p. m.; and Sundays 11 a. m. to 4 p. m.