|Barbara Thomas, owner of Fort Thomas Central|
When people talk about the benefits of shopping local, I think of Barbara Thomas.
Owner of gift boutique Fort Thomas Central, Thomas is continually brainstorming new ideas, seeking new products, asking for customer feedback, and promoting her store online. All this while also, daily, unpacking new shipments, rearranging store displays, ringing up customers and (beautifully) wrapping up gifts—in addition to mothering and carving out time for her husband and herself.
Thomas has made it easy to eschew the big box stores when it comes to gift giving (whether for yourself or someone else). One or two visits and she greets you by name, with a hug. She listens to your needs, identifies your taste, tailors your shopping experience. Simply, Fort Thomas Central epitomizes small business.
And this month, Thomas is offering something new: Gifting Back Parties.
Thomas moved to Fort Thomas after her husband was relocated to the area for work. "After working in sales, marketing, events and interior design for 15 years, I wanted to start something in Fort Thomas that would keep me in the community while providing a value-added benefit to the people who live there," Thomas says. "After traveling to Ohio every time I needed a gift for someone, I decided to open Fort Thomas Central, a one-stop gift boutique."
And now, groups of 10-plus can mingle and shop after hours at Fort Thomas Central, in the form of a Gifting Back Party. The benefits:
• Host/Coordinator receives a $25 gift certificate
• 10 percent off all purchases during the party
• 10 percent of sales are donated to a charity of choice.
"Imagine coming to Fort Thomas Central after hours between 6-9pm," Thomas says. "Entering the shop is visiting our home. Each room greets you with eye-catching displays creating stories of the perfect party, wedding, birthday, a special occasion needing the perfect accessory or baby gift." Attendees are welcome to bring drinks and finger foods to have during the party, which is set up buffet style.
|John Wind Maximal Art jewelry, available at Fort Thomas Central|
If you haven't shopped in Fort Thomas Central for a while, you're in for a treat. "Fort Thomas Central has evolved over the past two years thanks to getting to know our wonderful customers," Thomas says. "This year we have come full circle and added several great lines, including Nora Fleming, Blenko Glass, Images d'Orien, Farmhouse Fresh, John Wind Maximal Art jewelry and some great apparel lines including Thml, Mystree, A'reve, Easal and Urban Mango," she says.
|Thomas continually seeks out new lines, artists and artisans to feature in her shop.|
The shop also represents several local artists/artisans from Fort Thomas and surrounding areas, many of whom have been with the shop since its 2013 opening. These include Jerry Warner Woodworks, Creekside Jewelry Creations, Shadwell Art, Jane Pompilio stained glass, Joan Miley watercolors, Jan Polk, David Kloake, Lucie Rice, Sherry Steffen Designs, Joseph Drury, Greg Matsey and Lori Wendling pastels.
|A small sample of what's available in store.|
While Gifting Back Parties are new, last year Fort Thomas Central hosted a private shopping event for the Charities Guild of NKY, which was a great success. "They brought drinks and finger foods to share while holiday shopping," Thomas says. "At the end of the night they had fun, saved on a lot of one-of-a-kind gifts, and received a donation of 10 percent of all sales to put back into the Charities Guild of NKY."
Similar to Art Around Towne (another gift to the community from Thomas), these Gifting Back Parties underline the importance of community events. "I have always been involved in events and believe in the impact of events, more than ever, now that I own a brick-and-mortar business," Thomas says. "Events dig deep within our community and create the spirit of togetherness, especially when we can give back to a good cause or charity. This partnership is especially important for local brick and mortar businesses because we are small boxes that rely on relationships to build our businesses."
If you're interested in gathering friends for a girls' night out, holiday shopping or group outing, contact Thomas at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 859-609-6427.