To say that Carbondale’s Kelly Thornburg is excited about owning her own retail boutique and gift shop would be an understatement. In fact, Thornburg is tickled pink to be in business for herself, and that’s the name of her two-year-old boutique and gift shop in Carbondale’s Murdale Shopping Center — Tickled Pink.
Just because the store is still relatively new, don’t assume that Thornburg is new to business; that’s not the case at all. The shop is the latest undertaking of a woman with a lot of experience in the retail world. Thornburg has worked in management as a buyer and a merchandiser. At a time in her life when many others are looking to slow down, she decided at 51 to start again with a one-of-a-kind store offering unique products.
“I knew what I wanted in a shop and the direction I wanted to go,” Thornburg explained. “I wanted to focus on women and how they shop — for themselves, for others and for one another — and that’s what I’ve done.”
She said her years of experience have been a real plus in establishing a new business.
“I know how to buy merchandise, I know how to budget, I know who my clients are and how to focus on them,” she added. “With the experience I had, I knew what to get and what to do.”
Still, she said, there has been learning to do. Thornburg said she has had to learn some of the nuances of marketing, especially social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
“That’s been a bit of a struggle for me because it’s not something I’ve always done,” she said, adding that she shares the responsibility for social media with Tickled Pink staff members.
What she has done is pull together brand names that she knows her customers desire — products from companies such as Brighton, Vera Bradley, Pandora and more. She said the store also carries gift wrap and cards.
“I want to make sure that we are a one-stop shop,” she explained. “Our customers can buy what they need, get a card, have us gift wrap it and they’re done.”
She said the key to success is friendly customer service — something she strives for with everyone who walks in the door. She said she wants her customers to have as much fun as she is having.
“I love what I do. It’s not work,” she said. “I show up early because I enjoy it.”