There’s no official present for a 22nd anniversary – there’s a gap between 20 years (china) and 25 years (silver) – but Stan and Trish Lounsbury can direct you to just the right gift.
Twenty-two is a special number for the Lounsburys, who opened their store, Celebrations, two-plus decades ago in the fall of 1990. The Louisville natives had been living in St. Louis, but had moved back home to be close to Trish’s ailing mother. While Stan worked in the software industry, Trish’s dad asked her what she wanted to do ... and Celebrations was born. “We looked at some existing businesses and, in the end, decided to open a store,” says Stan. The original incarnation of Celebrations, located in Chenoweth Plaza on Brownsboro Road, was half the size of what it is today and focused primarily on party supplies. But as time went by, Stan left his job, and the Lounsburys never looked back.
Today, Celebrations carries seasonal and holiday decorations, custom announcements and invitations, home accents, gift books for adults and kids, and ways to mark every occasion under the sun.
The shop draws a faithful clientele. “People we serve have been customers for a long time,” says Trish. “Birth announcements, wedding announcements ... ”
“Often for the same child!” adds Stan.
“We have a lot of friends here,” Trish continues. “Some people come in more than once a week and so we keep changing things regularly to keep it interesting.”
And any day of the week is an interesting one at Celebrations. “One thing we hear from our customers is that they find things here they can’t find any other place in town,” Trish says. “We have a lot of things in such a small space. For that reason, it can take an hour just to get through the store.” Trish says she enjoys the vibe from shoppers laughing over a greeting card or discovering a gift they never would have considered until they saw it and knew it was perfect for the recipient. “People think of us when they want to get something unique but don’t want to spend a lot,” she says.
To help fulfill customer needs, the Lounsburys employ eight part-time employees. The sizeable staff includes Pam Tomchey and Doug Miller, framing veterans who assist Stan with Celebrations’ most recent product addition, custom framing – a vestige of Stan’s stint running a small frame shop as a college student. “We’ve had the framing for six years,” Stan says, “and the gift portion of our business has been consistent through the years, too.” While patrons who are looking for a particular engraved or letterpress stationery set can choose from an array of special-order vendors, they can also shop truly local. Stan cites local handmade jewelry lines, as well as books by Kentuckians about Kentucky topics – “bourbon and the horse industry,” Trish says.
Although the Lounsburys believe that letter writing is in decline, it is by no means a dying art. “There are still people who think it’s important to receive that handwritten note,” Trish says, “and there are enough people like that to keep us in business.” (In fact, the Lounsburys are planning to open a satellite location downtown in 2013.) Stan adds, “There are still those people who put pen to paper. It may be generational, as some people who are in their thirties are still teaching their kids to write thank-you notes.”
Trish’s father, as it turns out, taught her well. Ed Neel is 94 now, and although he no longer works in the store, she still turns to him for advice. “He’s always been willing to pitch in and do what needed to be done, and customers always ask about him. He was very instrumental in helping us when we opened.”
“Very instrumental,” Stan agrees.
“Our niche is that people come here for the experience,” Trish says. “It’s a happy store. People are usually here for a happy reason.”
Celebrations is at 3632 Brownsboro Road. Store hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (502) 894-9590 or visit www.celebrations-ky.com.