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January 20th, 2009Mall locale works for wandering gift shop

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by Kathryn Skelton
MaineBiz.biz

After hop scotching locations in Lewiston-Auburn for five years, Laurie St. Pierre in April moved her gift shop, Percy’s Burrow, into the Auburn Mall.

It’s the gift store’s fourth location in five years, but one that finally has her turning the corner toward profitability. St. Pierre projects revenue will hit $200,000 this year for the first time, allowing her to start drawing a paycheck.

“I’m persistent, I’m determined to win this game,” said St. Pierre, 49.

Percy’s is a mix of whimsical and high-end gifts, with life-sized stuffed dogs and wood puzzles, sepia-finished globes and tony wood furniture. After her first two locations, St. Pierre ditched a caf√© in the back of the store – it had turned into a second business, she said. She also pulled her emphasis away from books, although they remain her second best-seller after toys.

“I think it’s made the store more interesting,” St. Pierre said of the change.

She initially opened her shop – then named The Book Burrow – in downtown Auburn in May 2003 after a sizable investment to install plumbing for the caf√© and buy shelving. Sales were strong, but the location lacked visibility and convenient parking. She moved a mile away, near a Kmart, where visibility was fine but parking still wasn’t.

“It’s funny how you can be so close to the location and still not be right,” she said.

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