“The Little Gift Shop” is one of Portage Street’s newest treasures. Owned by local creative and entrepreneur Jill Rambo, this rustic mercantile offers eclectic artisan goods and an array of classes that delve into various artistic mediums and techniques.
Rambo was raised in Sault Ste. Marie and says there is “business in [her] blood,” having been born into a family of entrepreneurs and worked at family businesses throughout her childhood. This background provided a strong foundation for her present endeavors and helped her navigate the formalities of establishing The Little Gift Shop last fall.
“It was 51 days from concept to opening,” said Rambo, reflecting on the whirlwind build up to the grand unveiling that took place on November 1, 2018.
The biggest hurdle was the set up — transforming a vacant downtown building into the colorful, cozy haunt it has become. Family members, including Rambo’s husband, parents, and sisters, all helped with the process, from construction and electrical work to creating social media accounts and generating an online following for the company.
One thing that makes The Little Gift Shop stand out is its homey charm — it’s a thoughtfully-designed space all the way from the vibrant window displays to the front counter, which is crafted with wood salvaged from Rambo’s grandfather’s boathouse. All throughout the store, antique wire spools and pallets are artfully repurposed into display tables and shelving units. Rambo describes the motif as “urban farmhouse” — a melting pot of old and new, modern, and rustic, and it’s a scheme which complements the inventory of handcrafted home decor, soy candles, clothing, kitchen goods, and accessories.
Behind the store sits a workspace where classes are held. Recent classes covered acrylic painting, mandala painting, and stenciling, and Rambo says she’s on the lookout for new artists who wish to share their talents and lead a class. Classes are usually held in the evenings, and private parties of three to 15 attendees can be planned as well.
Rambo’s favorite part of The Little Gift Shop? There are many. She says she particularly enjoys creating the window displays. She also enjoys “being a part of the community again,” an experience she had missed after working many years in a job that required extensive travel.
“The community has shown tremendous support,” she said.
Rambo’s advice to anyone musing to start their own business is to seek out the many free resources that are available. Fellow business owners offer excellent firsthand insight, and there are many local resources available as well (just visit saultedc.com to read about some).
The Little Gift Shop is now open seven days per week, 10:00 to 6:00 Monday through Saturday, and Sundays 10:00 to 4:00. You can connect with them through Facebook and Instagram @thelittlegiftshop125 for information on upcoming events and classes.