September 22, 2020

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By CALLIE WRIGGLESWORTH

If there is one word to describe Blair House Gifts, it would be “different.” The quaint gift shop, which opened last September in the downtown Galt area of Cambridge, carries a wide variety of gifts and souvenirs. Items range from jewelry and scarves to clocks and toys.

“I like different things,” said Ann Dohanik, owner of Blair House Gifts. “You know, you’re trying to buy for many different personalities and tastes so you have to have a mix of items in your store. I try to get some Canadian products and come summer, I tend to carry garden items and I have always done a lot at Christmas.”

Dohanik ran her gift shop in Blair for 18 years until the building she was renting was sold.

“I took nine months off to look around,” Dohanik said. “I was looking for sort of that perfect spot and I saw several different locations, but I settled on this one. I liked it the best. I like the exposure. I like that the road is busy and we have a big parking lot behind the building here, so there is enough parking for customers.”

Dohanik came from Galt originally. She ran a store in Toronto for years before opening up her shop in Blair, and now is happy to be back.

“It has been good. The nice thing about being here as opposed to Blair is there are offices, the library, the theatre and people walking by,” Dohanik said. “A lot of my good customers who have been dealing with me for years are coming in here a lot more than they used to go to Blair. I think in the long run it is going to be a really good move.”

The new store has a lot of character with hardwood flooring and a stone wall, which seems to fit perfectly with the furnishings and products.

“I love it. It’s smaller than the other location but I love the high ceilings and the stone wall … it is just what I need right now,” Dohanik said.

Dohanik deals with over 100 suppliers in Canada and other countries around the world and often goes to gift shows to find that special something to add to her collection of items.

“I am always looking for those different ones (items) that people might not necessarily carry … I tend to go in every booth in the gift show … you might just find that one treasure that really is worth having in your store,” she said.

She compares the prices of items at the gift shows in order to get an idea of what other people are selling the product for.

“I like to try to have the best prices I can … you will see sometimes the same product with different suppliers for quite a difference in price.”

Dohanik said it is hard to say which is her most popular item, but her soy candles seem to be a favourite purchase. The all natural candles are made in Canada and burn for 100 hours. They come in 12 different scents and cost $21.

Located in the back corner of the store, she sells reproductions of old wind-up toys.

“I have a lot of customers who collect them. There is a man and he is almost 90. He comes in every year and buys one for his son. They are fun and just different. People don’t see toys like that much,” Dohanik said.
If customers are looking for a specific item, they can come into the shop and see Dohanik and she can sometimes get what they are looking for.

“I feel like I am part gift shop, part tourism centre because people are always stopping,” Dohanik said.

For more information about Blair House Gifts, visit their Facebook page at facebook.com/BlairHouseGifts.

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