Colorful, Edgy, and American-made Merchandise
By Angie Landsverk
Starting her own business was always on Sheryol Threewit’s bucket list, and she crossed that one off when she opened All Things Beautiful Gift Boutique.
“I’ve always wanted my own business. I finally got tired of working for someone else,” she said. “I love the products that I sell and love helping customers.”
Sheryol has a college degree in business administration and had worked in the accounting field. “I sold crafts, dolls, gifts, and jewelry in craft shows on the weekends when I lived in California and really enjoyed selling but not the packing and unpacking for the shows,” she said. “When I moved back to Illinois (this is where I grew up), my desire was to open a gift shop.”
She took that step a few years after returning to her hometown of Decatur, opening All Things Beautiful Gift Boutique in June 2012. “My business is a blessing from God. The name is biblical. I love the name,” Sheryol said when explaining how she chose it for her shop.
About 70,000 people live in Decatur, and she said her gift boutique is in the community’s thriving, historical downtown. “The town is not affluent, but it is home,” Sheryol said. “This is a blue-collar town. I live within walking distance of my store.”
She is the sole owner of the boutique and leases the space in which the business is located. Sheryol has been leasing from the same person for nine years.
Since opening her gift shop, Sheryol has changed locations and remodeled. “I have done both, in order to continue to grow. I first opened on East Prairie a block away and spent one year at that location. I quickly realized it was too small for my business,” she said. “When the opportunity for me to move came open, I did, and I doubled the space. In five years, the location next door to me became available, and it was a larger space, so I moved again.”
Those who visit All Things Beautiful Gift Boutique find Southern Bohemian-style clothing, jewelry, scarves, hats, gloves, American-made candles, goat’s milk lotions and soaps, inspirational signs, cards, cups, and seasonal gift items inside the store.
And Sheryol knows what her customers like best. “I don’t believe that I would have survived if I did not sell clothing and handbags,” she said. “It is something that women purchase over and over again. Next in line are my inspirational and snarky signs.”
She said her typical customers are 35- to 65-year-old white women who want something that is different, a little edgy, and colorful. “I am friendly and I get to know my customers and what they like, and I listen to what they want,” Sheryol said.
Her customers love the gift shop because of the warm, friendly customer service Sheryol and her staff provide. In fact, customer service and staying current with merchandise are some of the things that make her store successful. “I provide friendship, excellent customer service while the store is open and by appointment, and I listen to what my customers want and make suggestions when they have a request,” she said.
There are even more reasons why people enjoy visiting and supporting this store. “They love the rustic décor. The prices and sales are great,” Sheryol said. “The quality of the merchandise is awesome. They love knowing that what they are purchasing is limited — that they won’t see it all over town.”
Sheryol said her boutique is the most unique store in Decatur. What makes it different from others in the area? She said it is the shop’s look with brick and metal, the merchandise inside it, how welcoming she is to everyone, and the fact it is minority owned.
She describes All Things Beautiful Gift Boutique as “rustic and primitive with a touch of fashion. There is no other like it. I hand pick all my merchandise. I have a lot of one-of-a-kind, American-made merchandise, too.”
The Turning Point
Among the challenges Sheryol faced when opening All Things Beautiful Gift Boutique was being a Black woman with no financing and having to succeed on her own. “I financed my business with my own money,” she said. “I was on my last leg when COVID-19 hit and the Small Business Administration grants and loans became more easily available to women and to me as a Black woman. During COVID-19, I got the much needed financing, and I opened an e-commerce store to coexist with my brick-and-mortar store.”
That was her store’s turning point. Sheryol continues to have the online store. She ships from her store, and customers may also buy online and pick up in store.
Sheryol has noticed something else since the pandemic began. “When I opened my business, there were no Black-owned businesses in the downtown area. In the last 10 years, there have been two more minority businesses open. And this has only been within the last two years. One is a bakery and the other a photo shop. It was important to me to open this (her boutique) for this very reason,” she said.
She connects with the community of Decatur in numerous ways. “I hold community events, along with the other stores in the downtown area, such as Galentine’s Day, Witches Night Out, Christmas Walk, and a few of my own shopping events throughout the year,” she said. “I participate in events, advertise via radio, magazines, and Facebook, and belong to the chamber and women’s groups.”
She has found Facebook-sponsored ads to be the best marketing strategy for her boutique. “They appeal to my customers, and they are inexpensive,” Sheryol said. “Posting and advertising once a week are the best ways to be effective.”
Sheryol enjoys being her own boss and serving her customers. Owning a business is not easy, and she has advice for those who are just starting out. “You must work at it. You need to advertise often. Don’t count on your friends and relatives — this is your baby, and it is up to you to make it work,” she said. “You must be present and participate in the business. You need to know when to pivot and change, so that your business will survive.”
Facts at a Glance
Business Name: All Things Beautiful Gift Boutique
Location: 225 North Main Street, Decatur, IL 62523
Size: 1,700 sq. ft.
Trade Shows Attended: St. Louis Gift Show, Chicago, and Cash and Carry in Paxton, Illinois, about nine times a year.
Product Categories: gifts, clothing and accessories, home accessories
Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest
POS System: Elavon through Costco