WORTHINGTON — Five weeks after opening into the former Picket Fence storefront at the corner of Second Avenue and 10th Street, Serenity Gifts owner Sheri Van Der Brink is awaiting a truckload of new products to sell in her growing business.
What began as a home-based business in 2009 out of her Rushmore home has morphed and grown into the business it is today. Her first shop, Cribs, Bath and Beyond, was located in Worthington’s former armory and focused on handmade items for babies and children.
From there, she moved to Oxford Street, next door to the Pizza Ranch, in an expanded shop that warranted a name change to Serenity Gifts. Van Der Brink was in that location for five years before the opportunity arose to return to downtown.
“I loved my Oxford (Street) location, but the traffic wasn’t what I wanted it to be,” she said.
Van Der Brink signed a lease to begin renting the downtown storefront on May 1. Following two weeks of construction, which included painting, removing the old carpet and exposing the original flooring, adding some laminate flooring at the entrance and upgrading the electrical, she opened for business on May 15.
“It was a hard move for me,” she said. “Eight days before I closed … my dad died. He was supposed to be my electrician here.
“After talking to my family, they all said Dad would have wanted this. It’s been a bittersweet move to come down here. Here we are, and we’re happy to be here.”
Van Der Brink credits her family and friends for helping to prepare the new location for the move, saying that if it weren’t for them, she wouldn’t have been able to do it.
A staunch supporter of shopping local, Van Der Brink said traffic has been great — as have sales — at her new location as she welcomes new faces and familiar ones coming to see her new location.
The move brings with it many opportunities for growth, and Van Der Brink is awaiting shipment of many new items.
“We’ve expanded here with kids’ science, magic stuff … and a lot of fidget items,” she said, noting an assortment of Pop Its, Shashibo, keychain Pop Its and the new Plus-Plus building blocks already stocked. “We also brought in more IQ building games for kids, and we have an adult line of games as well for ages 17 and up.”
The store features a variety of other items, from gifts and ceramics (finished and unfinished) to handmade items, heat transfer and adhesive vinyl, and screen-printed apparel.
“We also carry books by Minnesota authors or Minnesota-based story lines,” Van Der Brink shared. “We even have two authors in here from Luverne and two authors from Worthington.”
Van Der Brink works with a variety of vendors whose handmade items are featured in the store, notably the local Crafty Chicken Ladies, as well as Daletree Woodwork and Plenders.
“I’m always open to bringing in more vendors,” she said, noting vendors are commission-based.
“One of the vendors we have makes very beautiful cuddle fleece blankets. Another vendor does custom woodworking — everything from squirrel picnic tables to furniture for your home,” Van Der Brink said. “Our ceramics gal is wonderful.
“More of my vendors are coming in — they just haven’t quite made it yet,” she added.
Van Der Brink’s shop involves her entire family, from her mom making and selling greeting cards to her husband, Corey, and son, Aidan, helping with woodworking and her daughter, Harper, pointing out all of the toys she likes. Her mother-in-law also does embroidered items, hand towels, handmade purses and bags to sell.
Van Der Brink has one employee and said her shop offers a baby registry. In the near future, she plans to begin a new program in which families can bring their children in to develop their birthday gift wish list.
Serenity Gifts, 201 10th St., is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.