When COVID-19 hit, Tricia Garrett inwardly panicked. The owner of an antique home decor business, she could no longer sell her items at boutiques outside Graham County. She and others in the same boat got together, brainstormed and came up with an idea: the Gila Valley Made boutique.
In just two weeks, 19 local artisans came up with a plan to sell jewelry, decor, clothing and sweets from inside an historic Thatcher home that used to be Dream Kitchens. Four local business owners pay the rent on the home and on select weekends, artisans from all over Graham County will set up their wares in the home’s many small rooms so people can browse and buy to their heart’s delight for seasonal decorations or holiday presents.
Garrett, who owns Prickly Pear Blossoms, said that because the Gila Valley community is relatively tight-knit, many of the business owners were already friends, and it was that friendship network that helped spur the boutique idea.
“We’re all about supporting local community and economy,” Torey Cranford, owner of Cakes with TLC.
On Thursday, the boutique opened its doors for the first time and Garrett said they had an overwhelming response.
“Last night was crazy exciting. We were busy, it was amazing and we’re just blessed. Everybody is excited to shop local. I think COVID is pushing people to shop local and support local businesses and our local businesses are looking for somewhere to sell,” said Garrett.
Jennifer Roberts, who helps man the register at the boutique, said she was amazed at how many people visited the store. At times there were so many people in the boutique that there wasn’t enough room to move and there weren’t enough parking spots outside.
“So many people commented, ‘It almost feels like normal,’” Roberts said.
Tabitha Warn, owner of the home decor business, Designs by TNT, said she was so happy to see shoppers, but the shoppers were just as happy to see them.
“I’m surprised, the support last night was crazy,” Warn said Friday. “It makes you kind of teary-eyed, thinking of the support from last night. It’s the best part to see everyone come together again.”
The Gila Valley Made boutique will be open the second weekend of October as well as every weekend in November and December. The boutique will also be open for the whole week before Christmas.