Store rebrands after Hurricane Florence damage

Published 8:13 pm Thursday, May 30, 2019


Washington Daily News

When Hurricane Florence ripped through Washington, the Thrifty Gifter was among several businesses and homes that were destroyed by severe flooding. Instead of giving up, the team decided to start over.

The Thrifty Gifter — now the Wander Co. — will reopen Saturday at 10 a.m. Located at 132 S. Market St., the store will once again feature 40 small businesses that hand-make their goods in North Carolina.

“From the mountains to the sea, wherever you wander in N.C., we bring you the best of handmade and homegrown talents from our state,” the team wrote on their website.

When the Thrifty Gifter was born in 2010, Jenny Smith was a college student making jewelry in her free time. She moved to Washington in 2011, where she met Candace Bonney, now the manager at the Wander Co., and started selling at markets and shows in Greenville.

“When we started doing markets together, we started thinking, ‘What if we could open a store?’” Smith said. “Candace’s sister owned the salon next door, and she saw the building was for rent. We jumped in with both feet.”

Smith and Bonney quickly realized the store was too big for jewelry, so they decided to find small businesses to fill the space. The store was in business for 10 months before Hurricane Florence flooded downtown Washington.

Under 2 ½ feet of water during the storm, the store was forced to close its doors.

“When we got in there, we realized we had to start over,” Smith said. “I started crying and my 4-year-old came over and said, ‘It’s OK mommy. We can rebuild it together.’ All of us have kids, and we decided that they are watching and if we run away, they will see us give up.”

The team regrouped to decide what worked for the store and what did not, and decided to start with the name. They wanted to better represent their goal to collaborate with small businesses in the state. Terri Menke, another team member, designed the new logo, and the Thrifty Gifter became the Wander Co.

The name was decided, and Smith and the team traveled across the state to find new vendors, from Greenville to Boone.

“We reached out to them to meet them and collaborate with them,” Smith said. “It became a network of artists.”

The Wander Co. will feature vendors such as Olde Grove Designs, Salt Hippy, Be Like Missy, Jenni’s Ugly Chocolates and more. The reopening will feature a cold brew tasting from Lanoca Coffee Company at 10 a.m. and a wine tasting at 2 p.m.

“We would just love to thank our family and friends,” Smith said. “We don’t have words to say how grateful we are to them. The texts, calls, emails, everything, kept us going when it got really hard.”