Regular shoppers at know Jackie Fiandaca as the friendly and competent face behind the counter. After all, Fiandaca has been running the exclusive little gift shop on the corner of Elm and High Street for the past 13 years.
What many would be surprised to learn, is that Fiandaca is not the owner. Joanne McMahon, who is originally from Buffalo, NY, opened Partridge Tree Gift Shop in 1986. This year the gift shop is set to celebrate its 25 year anniversary next month.
“I opened the store on Nov 11, 1986, and yes, I was 15 yrs old,” McMahon joked. The location couldn’t have been more perfectly suited for the unique little shop, with dozens of other small businesses, like banks and hair salons as neighbors. There was bound to be a lot of foot traffic, which was a key factor in McMahon’s prime locale.
“There seemed to be a lack of card and gift shops in Danvers, and a new Atrium was being built, so I took advantage of that," she said. "Also, this was a store that people could walk to."
Within a few years, she had opened a sister store in Winter Park, Florida, and was traveling back and forth between the two. It got to be too much, and when she met Fiandacca, she asked her to head up the operations here in Danvers, so she could move to Florida, permanently.
McMahon said, “I would not be able to have that store if it was not for Jackie, being so far away would make it impossible. She is that store.”
Fiandacca remembers when she was offered the opportunity to manage the gift shop. “I was working in a beautiful department store in childrens clothing, and Joanne was my sales rep. She knew that the sales were doing really, really well, and one day, she asked me to come work for her. We both have 30 plus years in retail, and just work so well together.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
With Joanne dividing her time between the gift shop and two successful restaurants in Florida, and Jackie in charge of the operations in the Danvers shop, it seems like the perfect working relationship. “We are so much alike and have the same thoughts that it makes it very easy. [Jackie] treats that store as if it was hers. I am so lucky,” said McMahon.
Fiandacca added, “We go together to the Atlanta trade show every year; that’s our Christmas, we do the buying together. It’s so funny because our tastes are so much alike, I’ll be looking at something just at the same time she’s reaching for the same item. We just know-and everyone always asks us if we’re sisters,” she laughed.
When asked how Partridge Tree Gift Shop has managed to survive the down economy, McMahon explained that it has a lot to do with customer loyalty and personalized service. “It has been a struggle for the past few years but we are hanging in there," she said. "We are very customer oriented, and that is what sets us off from going to the mall. It has been so nice to see our customers go from being young children that came in, to young adults, to getting married and having children of their own.”
Fiandacca couldn’t agree more, nothing that "customers don’t get that one on one attention out there in lot of stores. We will special order items for customers. Through the hard times, we’ve had to remain focused on the most popular items, and stay tuned into what our customers want; and then we do a lot of gift wrapping, which is a nice touch that people really appreciate.”
As for what’s new at Partridge Tree, Fiandaca said the infant and childrens section is now carrying unique lines, like Bunnies By The Bay, and Kidorables which are coordinated ladybug and flower raincoats with matching boots and umbrellas for toddlers.
As always, customers will find a wide array of unique finds to suit nearly every fancy, from Crabtree & Evelyn lotions and creams, to Yankee and Root Candles; Buyers Choice, Willowtree and Dicken's Village collectibles; even the popular Harbor Sweets chocolates, jams, jellies and teas can be found at the Partridge Tree.
"We have a large selection of Vera Bradley bags, and Miraposa handmade tableware, which is timeless- it's a really beautiful gift and the presentation is really nice."
Fiandacca has seen ladies, especially, gravitating away from tabletop items, and toward accessories and jewelry. “We have been getting more scarves and hats, clothing and accessory items in. The ladies seem want to buy something for themselves to make themselves feel good, so we have been adding more things for them."