New business in Troy specializes in personalized gifts

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lindsay Garner, owner of Hazel’s Gifts & Engraving, takes an order from a customer shortly after a ribbon cutting ceremony outside the store on West Elm Street in Troy. Hazel’s specializes in personalized gifts, such as photo frames and glassware.

Written by Whitley Kilcrease

It can be difficult finding a perfect gift for someone special, no matter the event or occasion. A new business has recently opened in Troy that adds a personal touch to gifts.

Hazel’s Gifts & Engraving on West Elm Street celebrated its grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday, just more than a month after opening its doors in July.

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The business owner, Lindsay Garner, said the goal is to turn an ordinary gift into a keepsake through personalization.

“We really enjoy turning ordinary gifts into something special,” Garner said. “I feel like what we do here is very unique and different.”

According to Garner, business has picked up daily since opening last month. Her most popular-selling items are woodblock picture frames, particularly the ones engraved with Greek letters, and cutout acrylic monogrammed necklaces.

Garner said, unlike similar stores that do metal engraving, Hazel’s has the capability to print on almost any kind of material including wood, acrylic and glass.

Engraving on most materials begins at $8 for in-store gifts and $10 for items not purchased at Hazel’s. This includes a standard name or initial engraving, but the price varies depending on the size and word amount of a project. She also guarantees consumer satisfaction and a quality product.

“I won’t send out anything sub par,” Garner said. “I’m a perfectionist. I want everything that leaves the store to be perfect.”

Hazel’s sells a variety of gifts, from knick-knacks and seasonal items to collegiate and Greek products. The store also offers men’s merchandise, such as coin trays, money clips and flasks.

“We have gifts for every occasion,” Garner said. “We offer several gifts for men. I know it can be hard to shop for a guy in Troy sometimes.”

The store also carries baby items, such as cups and rattles, as well as a wide selection of sterling silver jewelry and trendy cutout door hangers.

Garner didn’t initially plan to run her own business. After graduating from Troy University with a marketing degree in Dec. 2009, she had trouble finding a job in her expertise, an issue many college graduates are facing in today’s economy.

For more than eight months, she applied for jobs daily and went to “tons of interviews.” Garner said potential employers would always turn her down for being either too inexperienced or overeducated.

In the fall of 2010, Garner began what she refers to as an “apprenticeship” with Fine Line Engravers and Gifts in Montgomery, working her way from a starter position without pay to assistant manager over an 18-month time period. She said she only engraved for the first three months, then her duties expanded to include helping customers on the store floor. Soon, Garner became assistant manager and was in charge of all glass engraving done at Fine Line.

However, the daily commute to and from Montgomery was taking its toll, so around March 2012, Garner decided to open her own business in Troy.

“It’s really wonderful,” Garner said. “I just enjoy helping somebody create a special gift for someone. I really like making the customers smile.”

Inspiration for the store’s name comes from two special influences in Garner’s life – Hazel Rawls, a great-aunt on her mother’s side, and Hazel Garner, her paternal grandmother. Garner said both women were pioneers of women’s independence because of their role as single working moms at a time when it was not considered socially conventional. She also said they were women of faith, courage and conviction.

“When I was trying to come up with a name, that’s something I just kept coming back too.” Garner said. “I eventually decided to keep it.

“It just felt right,” Garner said. “They’re just really strong, independent women I admire.”