Meridian Industrial

SCANDINAVIAN GIFT SHOP

2020-12-21 | Vicki Mitchell

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I am delighted…just thrilled to pieces!” declares Siv Harvey about her granddaughter, Olivia Trueb Smith, taking over the Scandinavian Gift Shop she originally opened in 1964. “She’s doing her own thing and doing a great job!”

When Harvey first got married, she and her husband received many beautiful gifts from Scandinavia, her birthplace. Her husband was impressed by the beauty and simplicity of the Scandinavian style. One day, he spotted an empty storefront near their home in Ellington, Connecticut, and asked his wife if she would be interested in opening a gift shop. Harvey was definitely interested, and the new store was originally stocked with Royal Copenhagen china and Orrefors crystal, Scandinavian figurines and greeting cards. The variety of merchandise offered grew and changed over the years, and eventually focused on holiday décor and specialty food items.

While honoring the shop’s reputation for all things Christmas, new owner Smith plans to expand the shop’s yearround appeal, saying, “My main goal is to keep to our roots but also expand, so I have branched out into environmentally friendly companies, which is a very Scandinavian lifestyle. I just brought in MudPie for our kids’ clothing line, and am looking to bring in other brands, as well. Scandinavia has some amazing minimalist toy lines that I would love to branch into. I will have other gift items too, for weddings/newlyweds and general gifts. I am tossing around some ideas on
what I would like to do with the green house on the property.”

The food items continue to be quite popular. “We sell everything for your Scandinavian smorgasbord. We have Korv (sausage), herring (pickled fish), Swedish meatballs, Swedish and Norwegian
cheeses, candies and all things lingonberry. We have a local bakery that bakes our Swedish coffee bread, limpa and bullar,” explains Smith. Also spotted on the shelves were Glogg, knackebrod (a famous crisp bread) and a variety of other snacks, both sweet and savory.

When Smith, who was born and raised in Ellington, was asked how she came to the decision to take-over her grandmother’s shop when she retired last year, she said, “we are a family in which traditions run deep…both the Scandinavian Gift Shop and the new property it is located on have held so many traditions for families. I love that we have been able to keep that going.”

Smith remembers dressing up as Saint Lucia (a Christian martyr whose Feast Day is celebrated in December) for her grandmother’s shop when she was a child, and began working there as a clerk in 2015. When her grandmother retired last January, they began working together so she could “learn the business and add some of my own flair to her beloved legacy.”

Smith’s mother, Mary Ellen Trueb, was born the same year the original store was opened. She was basically raised there as a child, and began helping out as soon as she was old enough. Smith says of her mother, “She currently is right by my side helping me. I have my full time job (at CIGNA) so my mom helps with tasks during the week and is a cashier when the store is open. I couldn’t do it without her.”

Smith, married last June, also credits her husband, Drake, with playing a major role in the success of the new shop. “We purchased the property at the end of 2019 and renovated the building from January to September,” she says. “He works for the Barn Yard as a carpenter. It’s because of him that the building has made such a transformation and is so beautiful.”

In addition to the gift shop itself, the property also includes a small cottage, which now houses the Whole Harmony Tea shop. Smith says, “I couldn’t be more honored that they decided to open up shop on our property. They are wonderful people with amazing products.” They are currently serving teas, lattes, and other warming drinks outside in a cozy area near a fire pit. They also offer “to go” items.

Another small building adjacent to the gift shop is being used by family friend Bonnie McCabe, owner of Floral Accents. She “has an amazing talent,” says Smith. They have coordinated on one joint venture so far, “Winey Wednesday,” and look forward to planning many more joint events in the future.

As Smith says about her new property and all of its possibilities, “I have always been so drawn to the property, and loved everything about it. It broke my heart when it was left empty. It is such a happy place and I couldn’t possibly find a better spot for the store. She continues, “I love seeing all the new and returning faces. I find such joy in people enjoying our property and the products we have. I think we all need a happy place, especially this year, and it seems that we have been able to provide that for our customers…we are thankful for all the love and support we have seen so far. We really can’t thank our customers enough and we hope we can continue to be a place people look forward to visiting and want to stay a bit.”

The Scandinavian Gift Shop is located at
149 Rockville Road in East Windsor, Connecticut • Scandinaviangiftshopct@gmail.com
860-872-0273

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