A landmark Starkville gift shop recently reopened under new ownership as the store’s founding owner decided this year seemed like the perfect time for a change.
Olivia Loftis married Ted Loftis and moved to Starkville in 1980. In the fall of that year, she started freelance decorating work out of her home. In 1982, she opened the Americana Workshop on Washington Street.
In September 1985, she moved the business to Main Street and renamed it Giggleswick.
The name’s origin
Last week, Olivia Loftis recalled the origin of the name and reflected on her time in business in the city.
Deb Shafer – who also recently retired from her advertising business, Dux D’Lux – came up with the the name Giggleswick from visits and studies in England, Loftis said.
Giggleswick is a village in north Yorkshire County.
The almanac says it’s England’s most peaceful and enchanting village.
“So we called our shop here Giggleswick – Starkville’s most enchanting gift shop,” Loftis said.
The store’s founders leased the space where Fashion Accent is now, then bought the larger, adjacent building in 1997. Six years later, Giggleswick relocated to Highway 12, where it stands today.
This year marked 30 years in retail in Starkville for Loftis.
“...There never seems to be a good time, a convenient time to do something else, but 2010 just seemed like the perfect time ... for us,” she said.
She also said it was a perfect time for Janet and Al Massey – the new owners – and for Starkville.
“In retail I have seen this year increased consumer confidence,” Loftis said, citing increased retail sales taxes and numerous businesses opening in the community.
“I’m really grateful for the Lord’s blessing and the favor of the Starkville community,” allowing her to be here for 30 years and “fulfill one of my life dreams,” she said.
In a statement she said: “It has been a tremendous pleasure to celebrate life’s happiest gifting moments.”
Loftis says she looks forward to spending more quality time with family – including grandchildren – and friends.
“My next life goal is to learn Biblical Hebrew, to read the word for myself and understand it,” she said. Loftis says she’s doing some self-study at home in the language and hopes to attend some conferences and seminars.
She noted the store changed ownership 25 years to the month it opened as Giggleswick.
The store officially changed hands Sept. 1.
The Masseys reopened the store under their ownership Sept. 9.
“Our customers are going to be thrilled and very pleased with what they see when they come in here,” Loftis said.
“I was also glad to learn that a lot of our customers already knew the Masseys and had visited and shopped with them before,” she said.
The new owners will honor previously-purchased Giggleswick gift cards, Loftis said.
‘The Other Side’
Massey family was in the funeral business for 50 years, said Janet Massey. They sold the funeral firms in 1998.
In January 2004, Al and Janet Massey purchased the local, downtown hardware store in Noxapater, where the family resides, after the store was open for about 27 years.
“We like to buy 30-year-old businesses,” Al Massey said.
There was a vacant former drug store and doctor’s office next door to the hardware store, Janet Massey said. They built a gift store in the space and called it “The Other Side,” she said.
The store opened in May 2004.
The Masseys have 7,500 square feet of retail space in downtown Noxapater.
“We carry a lot of the same lines that Mrs. Olivia carried here,” Janet Massey said.
“...I’ve been an admirer of this store, Giggleswick, for many years. ... This is a dream come true for me too. I never would have imagined in my wildest dreams that ... I would have this opportunity,” she said.
“It’s quite an opportunity to come in behind somebody that’s been successful for 30 years,” Al Massey said.
“...We sell... top-quality lines. ... That’s certainly what the reputation has been here at Giggleswick. I just felt like it would really enhance both of our businesses to expand. I feel like this will help us even in our Noxapater business,” Janet Massey said.
“...We’re very excited to be in Starkville and want to be part of the Starkville community,” she said.
The Masseys are making some changes to Giggleswick. They’re adding a full children’s shop in the Wigtwizzle section of the store and The Other Side at Gigglewick, Janet Massey said.
They’ve also done some remodeling, including new flooring and fixtures.
The store’s customers “are going to be so pleased. They are going to love the Massey family. They are delightful people. They are seasoned business-people and experienced retailers. ... They are bringing their expertise and all these new sets of eyes and hands to just create ... more great and wonderful things for the Giggleswick customer,” Loftis said.
The Masseys’ daughter, Leah Cheatham, and their daughter-in-law, Erin Fulcher, will be involved in managing the business.
The store hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The phone number is 323-GIFT (4438).
Information about the store can be found online at http://www.giggleswick.com/  or on Facebook by searching for Giggleswick.