Gifts From The Heart: Shopping Locally is a Gift For Your Community

Gifts From The Heart, located in Rainsville, offers a wide and ever-changing selection of gifts and apparel. Cindy Graben, owner and operator, prides herself in the fact that anyone can find a gift for friends and family there:

“I feel like you can come in and shop for gifts for anyone, from babies to the elderly.”

Gifts From The Heart doesn’t just carry gifts, though. The business started as a gift shop, but soon grew and developed to offer much more:

“It started out being a gift shop with shower and birthday gifts, but people kept asking about children’s items and more baby things so it went from a gift shop to clothing, baby registries, and on into women’s clothes. I just try to listen to my customers and meet their needs.”

Like many small business owners, Cindy had a career before she decided to set out on her own. She worked at Horizon Bank while she and her husband Keiffer raised their two children, LeAnn and Clint. After they grew up and started their own families, Cindy wanted to try something new.

“I had worked at Horizon Bank for 28 years and I was going to be getting a grandbaby soon, and I wanted something that would be more flexible for me to spend time with family and to help out with them. I was just ready to do something on my own instead of working for someone else, but it’s a step of faith for sure. When I was raising my children I’m not sure I would have stepped out on my own because with a small business you never know if you’re going to have a payday or not.”

Cindy opened Gifts From The Heart in April 2012 in its current location beside Topher’s Wings in Rainsville. She chose the name because she loves giving gifts herself, and she knows how important it is to be able to find a gift that is personal and comes from the heart. That’s why she offers such a wide selection of items. Cindy says that running a small business takes a lot more work than she thought it would when she started. She spends a lot of time at the store stocking items, helping customers find the perfect gift or register for showers, but she also spends a considerable amount of time at home searching for new items to stock. Even with all the hard work and the time she has to commit to see her business succeed, Cindy wouldn’t change anything:

“It’s the most rewarding job I’ve ever had. I created it, and it’s all on me. Whether it’s a good day or bad day, it’s what I’ve generated. When I opened up, it was a very bad time economically. The economy was way down in 2012, but I just felt good about it in the beginning and took that leap of faith. It’s been a challenge, but I just went into it with prayerful thoughts and I could not ask for it to have done any better.”

Cindy says since opening her business, she has realized the full importance of making the decision to shop locally whenever possible, and the impact shopping locally has on small businesses and the community. According to Cindy, the most important reason to shop locally is that when you do, you are making an investment in your community:

“When you shop at a small business, you’re putting your money back into the community. I pay sales taxes back to Rainsville. That may be a small percentage, but it adds up and it makes the city grow.”

When you shop locally, you’re not just doing your part to help your city or your community, you also get some pretty cool benefits in return. When you shop at a big box store, you often don’t get the best personal service, but when you shop locally, you can make connections and friendships that will last a lifetime. According to Cindy:

“I have people come in and share their stories and show pictures of their families. Shopping locally you make so many connections and relationships. You become more of a friend rather than just a customer.”

For Cindy, working together to help small businesses and the community is very important:

“I don’t want to work against other small businesses or take customers from them. There is enough out there that if we can get people to shop locally, we can all grow. Anything that we can do to work together to help the city and help local businesses is a win-win situation.”

Cindy realizes that small businesses don’t have to compete with each other to succeed, but should work together to get people shopping locally instead of with the big guys. That’s a big part of why she joined Native:

“I think one great thing about Native is you’re helping reward the customers we already have, and you’re also helping get new customers using technology and selling online. It can be the best of both worlds, and most places are not like that. I think what Native is doing has really helped, and I think it’ll continue to help us and other local businesses.”

You can use the Native Rewards app to support the local small business community. You get great deals and a chance to win money every time you shop with local businesses like Gifts From The Heart!

Get it here: