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New gift shop gets personal(ized) in Calabash

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By Staff Brunswick Beacon

CALABASH—Linda Chappell and her daughters can tell the seafood capital is growing just by checking their shared business gauge.

Twenty-three years ago, when Chappell launched a new hair salon on Thomasboro Road, “I was like ‘Little House on the Prairie’ when I first opened here,” she said.

It’s not quite as desolate in her second, family-owned venture next to the salon, Thee Coconut Tree, a gift shop where a trio sells personalized and embroidered items.

It’s a joint business effort, where assorted items such as baby, engagement and wedding gifts are sold and can be personalized with names and initials.

Much of the personalization work is done by Chappell’s daughters, Christy Bland and Gwen King.

Bland uses a freehand style to add names to such gift items as steel tubs used to hold cold drinks for wedding and anniversary parties, children’s book bags and shoes, room plaques and assorted wedding presents.

There are cookie jars, wall-art canvas that can be decorated with children’s names, and assorted kitchen and shower gifts.

King is in charge of the shop’s new embroidery machine, which can be used to sew on custom personalizations in any color.

King said they could personalize everything sold at the store. They’ll also personalize items people bring in to the store.

The family has been in retail businesses for years, dating back to the days when Chappell operated Gwen’s Fashions and Gwen’s Hair Salon across the street from the future Walmart in Shallotte.

“We had makeup, hair and clothes,” Chappell said.

That was back when there was nothing else in Shallotte—“No Belk, Walmart, nothing,” she said.

Except for Kirby’s Department Store a little farther up the street, “she was the hub,” Bland said of her mom’s businesses. “That’s how I got my start then, with my mother.”

Thee Coconut Tree also offers gift baskets and Bland’s own baby-shower wreaths made with baby hangers. She’s in the process of trying to get a patent on her invention.

“We can make them custom or already made-up,” Bland said.

Customers also can buy their own items somewhere else, and the shop can arrange everything into a nice basket, she said.

They also sell girls’ “pillowcase dresses” made by a local seamstress.

“Now that we have the embroidery machine, we can embroidery little girls’ names on,” Chappell said. “And that makes everything cuter.”

Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or at llewis@brunswickbeacon.com.