Karen Gill worked her window treatments business – Royal Treatments – out of her home until the opportunity to open a storefront rent-free for three months became available through the Delaware Economic Development Office’s Project Pop-Up.
Gill opened Royal Treatments in October 2013 and on her first anniversary announced an expanded business – Smyrna Cards & Gifts – next door.
From visits with state officials like Gov. Jack Markell to being ambassadors for downtown Smyrna, there’s a buzz surrounding business owners Karen and Woody Gill.
“We’ve invested in Smyrna and Smyrna has invested in us,” Woody said.
How does it feel to have so much success after starting as a Project Pop-Up business?
Karen: I feel honored that we have had so much positive attention. I feel the program is valuable for business owners who are starting up in a brick and mortar location moving from a home base, or an entrepreneur who has a marketable service or product and is prepared to go full tilt starting a business. If I had to do it all over again, I definitely would repeat the process and participate in Project Pop-Up again.
How does it feel to be considered an ambassador for downtown?
Karen: We love what we do and while we would be happy to own our businesses wherever we would be, the fact we’re in a community that is so dedicated, welcoming and exuberant about wanting to revitalize and bring new businesses in; we are thrilled to share our experiences with others to encourage them to come here. I’ve offered Mayor Joanne Masten, if she’s trying to convince a boutique to come to Smyrna, I’ll go with her to talk about the experience because we’ve been so pleased with the response. The reception has been fabulous. We’re thrilled to be ambassadors, but we don’t want to be alone in this. We want to encourage others to come here. We believe in the potential because we have been so well received, and we know that the town is excited and dedicated about growing the downtown area.
How is the expanded business – Smyrna Cards & Gifts – doing?
Woody: It’s actually been beyond my expectations. I thought maybe we were just getting a holiday rush with the amount of people coming from Royal Treatments over here, but I’ve seen more people that I’ve never seen before so I’m impressed. We’re still doing better than expected so we’re pleased. People repeatedly come in to buy a card and once they’re in, they’re hooked.