For 25 years shoppers found hidden treasures for their home and unique styles for their wardrobe at The Marmalade Tree in Oswego. Owner Barb Tews loved the small town charm of the gift shop as a customer for years before she bought the store to save it from closing and learned that buying for the masses wasn’t as easy as buying for herself.
Diane Moca: Imagine a shop you love is about to close, and you want to do something to save it, so you decide to buy it. That's crazy, but that's exactly what Barb Tews did here at The Marmalade Tree in Oswego. Barb, was that a hard or an easy decision? Barb Tews: It was kind of an easy decision, only because it had always been a dream of mine to own a shop. The store itself has been here for 25 years, so it's been a staple of Downtown Oswego for many, many years, so in that aspect, we really wanted to make sure it thrived, continued to thrive. Diane and Tony owned it for 18 years, and then Amy owned it for three, and I've owned it for four. I did a small business loan, so the first two years we were in business was obviously paying that back. But that all went smoothly as well, so I can recommend that to other people that may be scared or on the fence to venture out that it is doable. Diane Moca: And so many of the things here look really neat, well presented, But there's a lot of little gift shops like this all over, so how do you distinguish yourself from everybody else? Barb Tews: Well, we carry a lot of seasonal decor and everyday decor, but then we try and focus a lot on... We've got a huge wedding selection, we've got first communion and confirmation, graduation, and picture frames, and we just try to find things that you can't get at every other gift shop. Diane Moca: Does your business really depend, though, on that local person who knows you by name? Are there people who walk in and do know you by name? Barb Tews: There definitely are, and we really rely on that. Especially since COVID struck, we're relying more on that now than ever. Diane Moca: Mm-hmm. Barb Tews: Yeah. Diane Moca: And it sounds like that small town charm is something that you like as well, being in this business, in addition to it providing some ongoing revenue that you need to keep the business, too. Barb Tews: Yeah. Yes, definitely. Diane Moca: For Talking Cities, I'm Diane Moca.