published Tuesday, November 29th, 2011

Tillie Towne gift shop in Ringgold looks to emphasize U.S.-made products

  • photo
    Jeannette Fox, owner of the recently opened Tillie Towne gift shop, shows off her downtown Ringgold, Ga., store.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

• Name: Tillie Towne gift shop

• Location: 7679 Nashville St. in Ringgold, Ga.

• Contact information: Owner Jeannette Fox is at 706-935-2455 and tillietowne@hotmail.com

• Age: Opened Oct. 20

• Products/services: A variety of American-made products including gourmet chocolates, designer babywear, scented candles and sheep milk soap. "I have a conviction that because of our economy and because of the job situation in our country, in our local area, our region, that this was a way I could participate in helping my fellow man by supporting that rather than having those items imported," Fox said.

• Startup investment: Under $5,000

• Target market: Anyone shopping for gifts, particularly men. "I know that men don't like to shop, really, and I think it's an easy place to come in and find that special little gift for their girlfriend, their sweetheart, their wife," Fox said.

• Biggest hurdle: Finding American-made items. Fox said she's struggled to find domestic versions of products such as women's clothing accessories and home decor. She tries to find items that were not just made in America, but manufactured with domestic materials.

• Biggest reward: Interacting with customers. With the amount of effort Fox put into her couple hundred-square-foot store, she feels like it's a second home. When new customers walk in, she wants them to enjoy the store she meticulously designed. "I enjoy hearing people say, 'Oh, I love this,'" she said. "They enjoy the experience. They're not like, 'I have to get this done. I need to find something.'"

• Lesson learned: Put in lots of work at the front end of a business proposition to see success down the road. "Anything that's going to be worthwhile, that you're going to have personal satisfaction, it's never going to be without hard work," she said.

-- Compiled by Carey O'Neil. If you know of a small business opening, contact Carey O'Neil at coneil@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6525.

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