Gift shop owner Lee Ann McGhee studied art and calligraphy in college because she had always been fascinated with words, quotes and illuminated manuscripts. She initially began a home-based business, then decided to open her own gift shop in 1999 and build it around her personal line of calligraphy and artwork.
That is when More Than Words began – Lee Ann’s gift shop which is located in upscale Germantown, Tennessee, just outside Memphis. The shop carries jewelry, gifts for entertaining, home decor, chic baby apparel and keepsakes, tween and collegiate items, stationery, wedding and inspirational gifts. Holidays, weddings, baby showers and birthdays drive her business.
“I am happiest when I am creating and finding gifts that encourage my customers and bring a smile to their faces. Owning my own business appealed to me because it would provide an opportunity for my creativity, flexibility for my schedule, plus the ability to grow with no limitations,” commented Lee Ann.
More Than Words has become a family affair as you can see in the photo above. Lee Ann’s daughter Mallory McGhee is the floor manager at the shop. Her mother Caroline Faquin is the CEO and specializes in Pandora and Ayala Bar jewelry which are their #1 sellers.
Her customers love their complimentary gift wrapping with gift boxes, cello bags, tissue, and raffia from Nashville Wraps. They use hot pink and lime green in their branding.
They also use Nashville Wraps’ organza bags for their popular “Bags of Encouragement” which contain 31 scripture or motivational cards and a stand (one to read every day) with calligraphy by Lee Ann.
To help promote their business, they run weekly specials throughout the store as new products come in. They also post these specials or new happenings on the store’s Facebook page, so their customers know what is on sale without having to come by the shop. Their customers appreciate this since they are always on the go, and the business receives feedback which helps them improve their products and customer service.
They also use direct mail cards and print publications, and their website has been a huge advertising bonus. New customer coupon cards and magazine ads with announcements of sales have been useful lines of communication. However, word of mouth has been their best advertisement by far.
Lee Anne’s one piece of advice for business owners is to keep customer service the #1 priority. Making customers happy by providing a wide selection of unique gifts so they can make others happy too is what makes Lee Ann’s career with More Then Words more than worth it.
One of her favorite quotes by Corrie Ten Boom which Lee Ann frames and embellishes with original calligraphy says it all: “Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see.”
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