Many roads led Patty Leon to where she is today: owner of her own store, Chandler’s Green Table Gifts.
First, it was her personal goal to either start her own business or travel to Europe by the time she was 30.
“I decided to do the responsible thing and open my store,” she admits.
Then, there was the year of planning, preparation and research.
But it finally took an Easter decoration to make her take the plunge.
“A year ago, I was working in retail and they brought in the same (home décor) item we’d had the previous two years. All they did was change the color on one little piece,” she said. “They were just trying to sell the products they had in the warehouse.”
Nobody was listening to the customers, she said. And she knew, from her relationships with them, that they wanted homemade, unique pieces. But she also knew that a store had to be flexible, “nimble,” and able to find something the customer wanted, even if it’s not there at the time.
So on her 30th birthday, business-plan-in-hand, she quit her retail job. In July 2011, just a few months later, Green Table Gifts opened.
Already, the store has moved to a bigger space. More than 50 artists and craftsmen — nearly every one of them local — display their items at Green Table Gifts. The store is divided up, with a few feet of space designated for most vendors. Some are separated by painted doors from old homes that are then used to display items.
Taking what she knew about retail, a dash of “old” things, and what she loves about homemade décor and design, Leon’s shop at 3401 W. Frye Road in Chandler mirrors her taste in style, with a little eclectic mix here and there.
There are decorated signs, creations that carry Bible messages, handcrafted jewelry, soy candles, homemade candies, aprons sewn from blouses, vintage cameras and appliances, hats, stuffed animals for the kids and more.
She’s recently added Annie Sloan chalk paints — making her one of only two stores in the state to carry the popular brand. Her workshops on how to use them in home decorating are popular — and often filled.
And though designs change, the stable presence is always Leon, who spends seven days a week at the store.
“I’ve always worked two or three jobs, or gone to a job then gone to babysit or work on a craft project,” she said of her schedule. “It’s so much more rewarding working 60 plus hours. I love the people. I love the vendors we employ. I’d rather be happy and satisfied than be a millionaire. What’s not important is being successful in someone else’s eyes.”
Add being a wife and also a mom to a 9-year-old son, and you get one busy lady.
“He’s another reason I did it. I wanted to show him these things to help the local economy,” she said of the local artists she’s built relationships with. “It keeps giving back to the community. They buy most of their supplies here and then sell their products here. We’re proud of that and I tell him, ‘This is why we do it.’”
On Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., she’s adding a few more vendors, giving them space outside the store for a one-time gala that will include workshops and new items. It’s a chance for artists to check out Leon’s site, and a chance for Leon to find new possibilities for the store.
“If I like it and think I can sell it, that’s what I go for,” she said.
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