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It's a gift, a ribbon, and a smile at La Ti Da

Mother and daughter become entrepreneurs and help the Suwanee community find the perfect gift.

Picking a gift for a friend or family member to celebrate a special occasion can be difficult. We've all been there. What do you buy your mom on her birthday, or what should you give your spouse on your anniversary? You want the gift to be special but just can't think of the right one.

Becky Vickery and her mother, Margie Wood, created for this very purpose. The gift shop is in the heart of Suwanee just across from Town Center on Buford Highway. The brand tagline is “Celebrating life's special occasions” and the store contents are set up to help customers do just that.

Vickery and Wood have lived in Suwanee since 1984 and Vickery is a North Gwinnett graduate. The idea for the store started over a simple Christmas-time conversation in 2007. The pair had always wanted to start a business but had held back for one reason or another. Vickery's children were old enough that she felt she could explore options. So with the support and backing from her mother, the two started to plan a business.

Vickery says the Suwanee community “needed a fun and festive store” where residents could get invitations and gifts for celebrations. Despite the fact that neither of the two had a retail background, they proceeded with the idea for the shop. Vickery jokes that she was “a professional shopper” not a professional retailer.

What Vickery did have was a knack and a heart for putting together gift packages. She could turn everyday items into personalized presents for people. She used this passion as the fuel for ideas on how to create a retail storefront.

The inspiration for the business name came from a Google search result; “ooo la la” says Vickery. She saw it while on an idea hunt for names and thought “well, la ti da.” With their name chosen, Vickery and Wood worked with a professional designer to get the business logo and tagline. “People are celebrating things in life and they like to give gifts,” Vickery says.

The build-up to day one of the business was a bit stressful for the two. They went into the market on the opposite side of the calendar from the Christmas time retail peak. So finding some inventory was tough. Then, merchandise started appearing before their retail space build-out was completed. Fortunately, they had some available storage space for the inventory, which they used to tag and catalog the items.

La Ti Da opened opened during Suwanee Day of 2008, just nine months after their Christmas-time discussion. This month Vickery and Wood celebrated the three year anniversary of their business. They've built a loyal customer base in the area and have found their niche.

Inside the store, customers will find gifts, stationery, invitations, and good advice. La Ti Da carries some favorite brands such as Vera Bradley, Tervis, and Thymes. Vickery and Wood arrange the store according to themes. They buy from many different vendors but will tie them together in the themed sections. Vickery says that she picks things that she would choose to give and looks for gifts to fit in different price ranges.

The stationery section of the store is a place where customers can order custom pieces for formal occasions. Options include thermography and letterpress printing. For more informal printing needs, customers can choose from an assortment of designed base stock that is on-site. With the the guidance of an in-house specialist, the customer's message is printed on the stock using laser or inkjet printers.

The La Ti Da Facebook page is their largest way to communicate with customers. Vickery and Wood post new items in the store, specials and promotions. Each week they have the “Friday Frenzy,” which features one item in the store. It's a contest where customers enter by leaving a comment on Facebook. The winner is selected at random from the resulting comments. Recently, they have started “Wacky Wednesday,” which gives information for one-day promotions.

One thing Vickery has learned is “you have to be tied to the community.” She uses monthly “shop for a cause” campaigns where she donates a percentage of sales to a specified charity. Past charities include leukemia and breast cancer research. “You get more out of life when you give back to the community,” Vickery says.

The mother and daughter have learned a lot about retail in three years and are still learning. They say they've made many mistakes. “Retail isn't easy,” says Vickery. She says she's had to learn about terms and conditions from suppliers, cancel dates, late supply delivery, coupons, and customer expectations for when and how they buy.

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For more information on La Ti Da:

La Ti Da Online Web Site

La Ti Da Facebook Page

Look for Elf Magic coming this Christmas. La Ti Da will be a North Pole supply post.

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