Gift store closes as owners look to future

Gifts and Gadgets, Soldotna’s source of exotic trinkets, is closing its doors for good on Friday after a brief but fruitful three-year run.

“It was fun while it lasted,” said co-owner Val Ischi. “Now I am looking towards the retirement side of life.”

Ischi also runs the adjoining Dairy Queen with her business partner Pete Ischi, which is part of the neighboring building complexes that she also owns and manages.

Ischi and her sister Deb Wise opened Gifts and Gadgets together in 2011 as Alaska Fudge and Gifts. After a fire ravaged the store in June 2012, the duo used the set back as an opportunity to revise their business plan. They gutted the property, and reopened (minus the fudge) as Gifts and Gadgets, less than a year later.

Ischi said the store’s clientele has always been kind and appreciative of the unique products and reasonable prices.

Shutting down had nothing to do with the community response, Ishci emphasized. Wise’s round-the-clock job at Alaska Fish Connection keeps her based in Homer for half of the year.

With Ischi also focusing on supervising Dairy Queen, and the two sisters hoping to be more mobile in the dark winter months, Gifts and Gadgets has become a time consuming endeavor.

Full-time employee Louise Harris said she would be sad to see Gifts and Gadgets go. After almost two years at the store, she will miss the cyclical flux of enthusiastic tourists and friendly locals.

Harris said she’s heard some clients will be hurting for the dragon and faerie statuary that was quite popular.

“A lot of people are disappointed,” Harris said. “People are going to miss it, especially if you want (to find) something different.”

She joked some male shoppers will be especially troubled losing their “secret store.”

Men would come to Gifts and Gadgets to buy something rare for their spouses on special occasions, Harris said.

The space is currently open for leasing, Ischi said. She said she is potentially looking to rent it out as office space. Being right off a main road it provides good visibility as a business, but she has to be careful about what to allow next to an eatery like Dairy Queen.

Ischi said she isn’t too disappointed to be closing. She is ready to devote more time to traveling. Running a store from a distance has been less than ideal, and therefore not possible, she said.

 

Kelly Sullivan can be reached at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

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