MILROY - To continue to serve their customers and offer unique items in the Juniata Valley, artisans of an area co-op gift shop have re-established their store after it closed a few months ago following a fire.
Talk of the Valley gift shop, formerly Dairyland Gifts, is located inside the Big Valley Antique Center in Milroy. Previously, Dairyland Gifts was housed in the Dairyland Complex, but a fire this past June devastated much of the center and the businesses inside. Now, the vendors have opened up shop again and brought their business - something they hold near and dear to their hearts - back to life.
"I think there was never a doubt that we wanted to continue to be in business," said Gail Reed Young, one of the store's vendors.
Sentinel photo by MARJORIE STROMBERG
Scott Keys, back, Marty Fisher, bottom right, and Gail Reed Young, bottom left, all vendors of the newly-opened Talk of the Valley gift shop, stand inside their new store. The store, previously known as Dairyland Gifts, opened on Sept. 1 and is located in the Big Valley Antique Center in Milroy. Artisans of the co-op decided to reopen their business after a June fire at the Dairyland Complex in Reedsville closed it down.
Talk of the Valley gift shop opened at its new location on Sept. 1. However, it is celebrating its grand opening during the entire month of September. The store offers a variety of crafts and gifts, including hand-crafted jewelry and accessories, home decor, floral arrangements, hand-crafted furniture, gourmet foods, hand-crafted soaps, lotions and body products as well as hand-crafted pillows.
Young, who hand-crafts jewelry, accessories and home decor, said the vendors all work really well together, which is one reason they decided to reopen.
Another vendor, Scott Keys, said feedback from customers was another factor that prompted the decision.
IF YOU GO
* What: Talk of the Valley gift shop
* When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday
* Where: Inside Big Valley Antique Center, Milroy
* More information: Call 667-6003 or visit www.talkofthevalleygiftshop.com
"We pretty much started looking right away," Keys said.
The new location is about 1,100 square feet, Young said, but because of the layout, "(we're) capable of putting more merchandise in this area."
The former gift shop location inside the Dairyland Complex suffered smoke and water damage from the fire, Young said, and most of the merchandise was lost.
"Actually, it seemed like the gift shop got the worst of it," she said.
Young said after much of the store was lost, she took another look at her business and decided to take some of it in a new direction. She's now more into making glass items, she said, so there are lots of new elements in the store.
Keys, who makes jellies, jams, candies and sauces for his business, The Dutch Pantry, said it's important to the community to reopen the co-op because many of the store's items are hand-crafted and one-of-a-kind.
"We're very unique," he said.
Another aspect that makes the store special is that when customers stop in, they don't just come to buy things, they come to visit, Young said.
"They're so happy the store's reopened," she said. "I enjoy visiting the people."
Brian Powers, another vendor at the store, said that the Dairyland gift shop has been a "staple" in the community for the past seven years.
"(It's) a destination stop for many visitors from as far away as New York, Ohio and New Jersey ... our customers have come to expect unique hand-crafted items."
Talk of the Valley has one less vendor than the Dairyland gift shop did, but everything else is the same. The new location even has similar qualities than the old one, Keys said.
Talk of the Valley, like Dairyland, is near the highway and hotels "so we can get the travelers," Keys said, explaining that people come from out of the area looking for unique items.
However, the name is something that clearly has changed.
Marty Fisher, a shop vendor, said she came up with the concept for the name while on a trip to Stone Harbor, N.J. She saw a store with a similar name, she said, and wanted to bring the idea back to the valley.
The name fits well with the message the vendors want to get across, Young said, because they want people to be excited about the store.
"We want people to talk about it," she said.
Keys added, "If it weren't for the women it would just be called 'shop'."
Talk of the Valley vendors include: Young English Garden Designs, which is owned and operated by Young, of Huntingdon; The Ivy Wreath, owned and operated by Fisher, of Lewistown; Brushstrokes and Blessings, owned and operated by Marv and Jan Brubaker, of Harrisburg; The Dutch Pantry, owned and operated by Keys, of Burnham; Jay Bee Yell, owned and operated by Jennie Barren Landis, of Lewistown; and Bare Nekked Bath and Body, owned and operated by Powers, of Burnham.
Talk of the Valley is located inside the Big Valley Antique Center in Milroy. The mailing address is 47 Auction Circle in Reedsville. Store hours are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. each Wednesday through Sunday. Beginning in November, the store will be open from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. seven days a week. For more information call 667-6003 or visit www.talkofthevalleygiftshop.com.