PORT ORCHARD — Faith and family are the two pillars behind Gigi’s Emporium.
What started six years ago as a consignment shop in North Carolina in an 800-square-foot building has grown into something a little more. In North Carolina, it’s now a 3,000-square-foot consignment and boutique shop.
In Port Orchard, it’s a welcome boutique store dedicated to expanding that sense of faith and family to its Pacific Northwest location.
Gigi’s is run by a mother-daughter team. Marie “Gigi” Cairns runs the show in the east coast; Danielle Gilchrist, her daughter, helms the store in Port Orchard. Cairns has more than 40 years’ experience in retail. Gilchrist, who is a teacher, also has retail experience, having been made the visual manager of Fashion Bug while still in high school.
“Sometimes I think I’m crazy, but it’s great,” said Gilchrist, who started the store after moving here with her husband, who is in the Navy. Gilchrist also still teaches full time.
“Port Orchard has been absolutely wonderful. The feedback that we’ve gotten from people (is that they are) excited that there’s something new in town.”
Initially, merchandise sales were confined to consignment items, but later they began selling boutique items online. After the move to a larger location three years after first opening, they began to sell their boutique items in the store as well. The Port Orchard location, however, only sells boutique items, including locally made, hand-painted signs.
They opened their doors in Port Orchard in May 2016. On Dec. 24, they expanded to grow their business.
“It’s been great and the community has been wonderful,” Gilchrist said.
She said that everything in the store is hand-selected by her, and items are sold with small markups.
“Latest fashions at affordable prices,” is how Gilchrist described it.
And, she added, their “motto has always been, if we’re not willing to pay for it ourselves, we can’t expect other people to.”
She said all but a few items in the boutique are under $50.
“We wanted to just kind of support Port Orchard people, too,” Gilchrist said. “We’re really big on building relationships with people. We feel as though our business is based on faith and family, and all of our customers are our family.”
And they take that seriously. When a regular consigner’s car broke down in North Carolina, Gigi’s Emporium loaned her the money she needed to fix it and get to her son, who was scheduled for major surgery. They took another customer to the hospital for their surgery when it was too snowy for their family to drive.
“Our customers really become our family, and that’s what we strive for,” Gilchrist said. “We just feel as though we are not successful without our customers.”
A challenge for Gilchrist was “learning to manage a business together on opposite sides of the county” with her mom, but she said their family tie is strong enough to make it work.
Gigi’s is actually named after Cairns. Gilchrist said that is what she wanted to be called by her grandchildren, but at the time they opened, she had none.
So as a result, Gilchrist said, “If you want to be called Gigi, you better put your name on the store.”
But now, Gigi has three grandchildren, with a fourth expected in June.
For more information or to shop online, visit www.gigisemporium.com or www.facebook.com/gigisemporiumpnw. Gigi’s is located at 818 Bay Street in Port Orchard.