Timbrel Wallace is the owner of Lark Gifts at 17 Lincoln Square in Gettysburg, a business she started in 2011 and which she has grown over the years.
“We primarily sell gift items from small U.S. companies,” said Wallace. “I worked for Crate and Barrel for about six years in Atlanta. That was where I got my interest in retail.”
Wallace said her family lives in Pennsylvania and she appreciated having the opportunity to relocate here. “We moved here and purchased a store that was an ongoing business in Littlestown; we ran that for about six years,” said Wallace. After that store closed, she started her business in Gettysburg.
“I really wanted to get back into owning another store and starting a new business. I have always been interested in things that are visual in nature; I really like design and art. These concepts are all wrapped up in retail,” Wallace said. “I have always been about embracing change in terms of bringing in new products and trying out new marketing ideas. I am always looking forward to the next thing.”
Wallace said dealing with the pandemic was difficult, but the store was surviving. “When COVID-19 came along I was stunned. However, I realized that if I wanted to keep moving forward, I would need to quickly pivot in order to keep my business going and to serve the customers. We got our website more fully populated; we started offering free contactless delivery and free shipping for orders over fifty dollars. Seeing people wave to me from their front porches when I dropped off their orders was the height of my day,” Wallace said.
“We are following all of the recommendations from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. We do temperature screenings every day. All customers and employees must wear masks. We clean the employees’ back spaces just as often as we clean the public spaces.” Wallace said customers who are unable to follow mask guidelines may sit in a waiting area and can use a tablet for a contactless shopping experience.
Wallace said her businesses are not at risk of closing at this time and no one has been laid off during the pandemic. Wallace said she was surprised by the number of weekend tourists that pay her shop a visit.
Wallace said serving the Gettysburg community with her unique gifts holds great significance to her and that she does not plan to expand outside of Gettysburg. “The biggest challenge in starting a new business is getting your name out there and finding people who are willing to give your business a try,” said Wallace. “These relationships should never be taken lightly.”
“My husband was a supporter of me then and now. He was always, in every way, supportive.”
Wallace also own Nerd Herd Gifts and Games at 10 York Street and would like to open still another store in Gettysburg.
“I enjoy the concept of having an idea and then being able to see it through; that’s what I’m proudest of. If you have an idea just make it happen. You can always learn from your failures,” said Wallace.
Wallace recommends that following to anyone who would like to start a new business: “Do your research. Find any kind of small business association and listen to what they have to say to you. Know who your customers are and what they want.”