by Pete Mazzaccaro
When Gina Smith bought Lemons & Limes, the small, tidy gift shop at 8133 Germantown Ave. three years ago, it was the perfect fit.
“I knew I never wanted to work for someone else,” she told the Local. “I always wanted to own a business like this. I love what I do.”
But recently, Gina’s husband Nick Smith, was offered a great new job in Austin Texas. So the family is going to move and Gina has decided to sell her store.
Smith, a Dallas native said the move is not without irony.
“I always told my husband that I wouldn’t move back to Texas unless it was to Austin,” she said.
She’s excited about the move and the opportunity but acknowledged that it’s hard to part with the business into which she’s put so much of herself.
“This is the hardest part,” she said about moving. “I’ve been busy cleaning our house and getting it ready to be sold. But you can leave a house clean with a realtor. I can’t do this with the business. This is a good business, one that makes money and I hate having to leave it when I know how good it is.”
Smith said she has built a loyal customer base since she took over the shop. She’s based that business on carrying items you can’t find in bigger stores or even on Amazon. She regularly goes to small business trade shows and stocks items made by other small businesses.
A notable part of her business is clothing and bags for children and parents. It’s a must-shop stop for the stroller set.
“People know they can come here, get a unique gift and get it wrapped without worrying about it.”
She said many of her customers came to her for Christmas gifts particularly because they wanted to make sure she didn’t lose business in the slow economy.
“It says a lot about the Hill to have customers say that to you,” Smith said.
And that’s part of the reason she wants to sell it. She said she does not want the community to lose a store that has become important to people and to the larger business community.
“This isn’t about another retailer closing its doors,” she said. “This business has been very good.”
Asked what she’s looking for in a buyer, Smith paused to think about it.
“That’s a good question,” she said. “I guess, someone like me. Someone who has always wanted to own a gift shop like this and want to own a business. Someone who has retail experience. … Someone who will love being an owner.
Smith said that she exercised her three-month option to vacate the lease with landlord Bowman Properties and will close on February 28 if no one buys the business before hand.
“I’d be willing to stay open longer or do anything I could to ease a transition to a new owner,” Smith said. She also said she believed Bowman was interested in keeping the business as a tenant.
“You know, so many people have come in here and said, ‘I’d love to own a shop like this,’” Smith said. “I didn’t realize I should have been getting their numbers or e-mail addresses.”
Anyone interested in visiting — or buying – Lemons & Limes can check out the store’s hours on its Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/lemonslimes. Smith will likely be there. The phone number is 215-242-3080