Lights! Gifts! Action!
Legacy Home & Gifts offers illuminating fixtures and perfect gifts in its new larger showroom. Plus Hilton do-over, rock stars, Walgreen's, Starbucks and more.
Looking out over the large, colorful showroom of Legacy Home & Gifts, assessing whether she feels settled into her business' new location on Hudson Street in Silver City, Julie Maben breaks into a wide smile.
"We're getting there. I mean, it's been one event after another," Maben says with an animated sigh and shrug of her shoulders. Trying to think backwards and ticking off the past seven months on her fingers, she adds, "Well, there was Christmas, and we have our big open house. Then there was the big sale in January. Then it's spring and you have a whole shift of merchandise, then the tea." The business hosted the afternoon tea for the 24 Club's Home Tour last month, for which around 300 people passed through, Maben says.
"But no complaints!" she says with a wave of her hand. "I'd rather be busy than not!"
Maben and her husband, Johnny, bought the business — then called Legacy Lighting — from its founders, Lindy Poe and Georgellen Turnbull, five years ago. Poe and Turnbull had started the company just 18 months before, in 2001.
Turnbull's husband's job got transferred, and Poe found she couldn't balance the demands of family with running the business solo, Maben explains. The Mabens took over on May 1, 2003 — "The exact same day I officially retired (as an area manager) from PNM!" she says with a laugh.
About eight months ago, the Mabens renamed the business "Legacy Home & Gifts" to reflect its expanding product line and moved up Hwy. 90 to a bigger showroom at 910 N. Hudson. The new location, Maben says, has allowed her to expand product lines and better display merchandise — and a lot more merchandise at that.
"Oh, gosh yes, this space is two times larger," she says. She adds that she had to go into an accelerated buying mode while the new space was being renovated for the move: "I'd come in and look at the space and think, 'Oh, my gosh, am I going to have enough inventory to open my doors?' So I'd go home and think about it and order more product. I had two 10-by-20-foot storage units full of merchandise that we just unloaded into the store! It all just got sucked into the space!"
The new location has been a boon to business, too, Maben says. "We're so much more visible here. People are finding us. Hudson is a great street to be on, and here we're a little closer to the street and our entrance is now on a side street, which is easier for people to pull in and park."
Besides the Mabens, Legacy has four part-time employees. Julie Maben says she is "the main design person," and that the rest of the staff can help customers in any area throughout the store.
"I guess you could say I help people find their style," she says, adding that she does a fair number of in-home visits to help customers get ideas or solve problems. "I go to market three to four times a year, to see what's new, what's out there, and how things work, too, so I can recommend the right things."
Legacy Home & Gifts still sells a wide range of lighting fixtures, along with decor items and gifts. Lighting has always been the lion's share of the business, Maben says, but that shifts at Christmastime, of course.
"Gifts shoot way up then," she says with a laugh, "and hostess gifts are popular all year 'round."
She holds up a colorful drink coaster, shaped like a beach sandal. The base of the wine glass is held by the sandal's elastic strap.
"I love these!" she exclaims. "They're great little coasters, they stay on the drink, and because they're unique, they function as a wine charm, identifying the glass, too."
The business carries several exclusive lines, Maben says, noting she is the only local outlet for Yankee Candles (since Fantastic Finds closed), new Fiestaware table ware, the entire line of Mikasa, Scentier room fragrance bottles and the Southcoast line of colorful serving ware and dinner table items.
The store also carries linens, placemats, mirrors and lamps, "and a large variety of crosses," says Maben, gesturing to a wall full of the religious symbols. "People here really love crosses, they're beautiful, and we have styles to suit all tastes."
Maben estimates that her customer base is about two-thirds from Grant County to one-third out of town, with many customers being repeat buyers. "That's a real vote of confidence. It makes me feel good and tells me I'm doing something right when people come back and back." A lot of her customers, she adds, "started out remodeling one room and then, well, just kept going."
Not all Legacy's customers are decorating residences — Gila Regional Medical Center has been a large-scale repeat customer. "Ever since they went with the PlaneTree plan, where they want things to feel more like home, they want the surroundings to be more comfortable," Maben says. "They've been renovating one area after another, patient rooms, and they've been coming to us for products and ideas."
The area's active relocation market has been good for her business, Maben says, adding, "Electricians and other contractors have been very good for referring people to us."
Customers include both new construction and remodeling homeowners, and Maben nods enthusiastically when asked if the plethora of home improvement TV shows bring her business.
"Definitely! People get a lot of ideas from the shows, and they want to find those products they've seen on TV. We carry a lot of those products, like Candice Olson's line on 'Divine Design' (on HGTV). They come in and ask, 'Do you have something like this?' And when they see the actual product here, their eyes just light up!"
Maben says customer service sets her business apart and keeps it thriving in the face of discount mega-stores and online shopping. "I grew up here, and I know it's important to bring things into Silver City so people don't have to go into the big cities to find variety and good products," she says. "I can't match the prices at the big-box stores, but I'm as competitive, price-wise, as I can be. . . . And I pride myself on having unique products.
"Also, people like to see and touch, something they don't get to do online, and we can answer their questions and demonstrate the product. That's really helpful when you are making decisions about your home," Maben goes on. "I think about what frustrates me and what makes me happy. Those are the same things for the customer. It's frustrating to buy the wrong thing and have to replace it, so I like that we help customers buy the right thing the first time."
Even though she acknowledges Legacy Home & Gifts has just barely settled into its new larger quarters, Maben says she's already giving thought to the business' continued growth. The company's Web site, under construction and hoped to be operational by summer, will offer customers online shopping. And she says she's open to the idea of another "bricks-and-mortar" operation, too.
Looking over her expanded, chockfull showroom, she says, "We've actually doubled our business in less than five years. I find that amazing! But down the road, I can see an additional location."
Then Maben adds with a laugh, "Well, that's my long-term planning!"
Legacy Home & Gifts, 910 N. Hudson St., Silver City.
Mon.-Fri. 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. 388-1226. www.legacyhome-gifts.com
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