By Keith Lawrence Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Donna Southard has created a business of finding unique gifts. She says she will then personalize and monogram anything and everything a customer wants.
Messenger-Inquirer, Owensboro, Ky.
Donna Southard never really planned to open a gift shop in Owensboro.
She had been a consultant for Creative Memories for 15 years, teaching scrapbooking.
She had quit her full-time job.
She was happy creating hand-made gifts and selling them out of her living room.
"I wasn't planning on a shop," she said last week. "But I saw the space for rent over here. I told my husband I had found a shop. He said, 'I didn't know we were looking for a shop.' "
But three years ago, Southard created Crazy Me Gifts & Apparel in Williamsburg Square, a small strip center tucked away between the rear of Owensboro Christian Church and Veach Road.
"We were down on the end, where The Spot is now," she said. "But I moved down here (227 Williamsburg Square) because it's twice as big and I'm still growing."
Is there a story behind the store's name?
"I named the store 'Crazy Me' because I wanted it to be a place where people could come look for the the latest -- and craziest -- gift items," Southard said. "I pride myself on doing that."
And, she said, "My personality is also a bit crazy. Even when my kids were in school, I always worked, volunteered and had a home-based business on the side -- and I was always signing up for something else."
Southard said, "And in trying to do that, people would always say I was crazy for adding more to my plate. But when I do something, I try do it all the way. With my store, I was going to go crazy and wanted to make it a success."
Last month, readers of the Messenger-Inquirer named Crazy Me their favorite gift shop in the newspaper's annual Reader's Choice Awards.
"I try to find unique gifts," Southard said. "We personalize and monogram anything. We supply Catholic High uniforms and we deliver to funeral homes and the hospital. We have gifts for weddings, births and bereavements."
After three years of more than full-time work at the store, she says, "I love everything about it. I still love getting up and going to work every day. We just have the best customers."
Southard said, "We listen to our customers. If they want something, we try to find it. And I try to support local artists. A lot of the companies I buy from are giving back to people."
The store now employs six people.
Williamsburg Square, an early-American-style center opened in the spring of 1972 as part of the Lincoln Mall complex.
But Lincoln Mall eventually failed and Owensboro Christian Church took it over.
That left Williamsburg Square as somewhat of an orphan center.
"The only problem is you have to be looking for us," Southard said. "You probably aren't going to drive by and decide to stop. But we'd like to put Williamsburg Square back on the map."
Still, with the Internet, Facebook and other forms of social media, people from outside Owensboro find Crazy Me.
"We have groups that come from Evansville and Henderson," Southard said. "A lot of women come in on girls' trips." Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.
The store is closed on Sunday.