Riverside Gifts and Treasures, located in downtown Albion, is a gift shop co-owned by Sheila Schleede and Nancy Oakley. The shop is a place filled with antiques and homemade treasures.
In Oct. of 2022, the store resided in the building on 116 N Superior St., with a Coca-Cola mural. Schleede said they moved because they needed a bigger location. So on Aug. 7, they moved to their current location: The space between Pure Albion and the Foundry.
Schleede said that the move has helped increase foot traffic into the store. In the middle of the sidewalk, an “open” sign stands to tell passers-by that they can come in, and she says, they do. Adding that, “Usually the flow is pretty steady.”
Schleede said it was her dream to open the store. As a fan of crafts, she had always wanted to open her own shop. They started as a small shop and have only grown.
Oakley said that they were “really excited” to open in Albion because they wanted to be a part of the “bustling” Albion shopping experience and support local entrepreneurs.
Oakley said she makes her own things to sell in the store, including some of the Harry Potter hats and scarves located in the back of the store.
The “gifts and treasures” sold in the store aren’t only made by the owners, but by local artists as well. The makers rent spaces in the store to sell jewelry, baby and doll clothes, soaps, tumblers and much, much more.
“We wanted to showcase local people,” Oakley said. “The store supports a bunch of different people and it provides a spot where you can get something homemade.”
“We have about 25 vendors from Jackson, Marshall and Albion who rent spaces from us,” Schleede said. “Most of them have other jobs and just want to make something on the side.”
Schleede the artist makes a full profit if a customer purchases an item with cash. If the customer pays with a card, the store keeps the credit card fee and the rest goes to the artist. Oakley said they have people of all ages renting spaces in the store, the youngest being 11 and the eldest being 82.
Schleede there is no specific way the store is laid out. However, the structure of the store separates each artist’s work in a way that highlights what they make. Customers can browse through each item by going through small pathways, and things that match visually are kept closer together.
Owner of Anna’s House of Flowers, Anna Merritt enjoys the variety of things that they sell. She said very worker at Anna’s House of Flowers frequents the store at least once a day.
“There’s such a variety of unusual things to see,” Merritt said. “I have bought things from there many times, and so has my staff.”
Albion resident and flower shop employee Mary Habicht said Riverside Gifts and Treasure’s new location is an ideal because of the amount of activity along the strip.
“There’s the brewery, Pure Albion and the bakery all next door,” Habicht said. “They hold customers who are looking for something different.”
Outreach, Engagement, and Instruction Librarian Jabob Hagan said he hasn’t been able to go to Riverside Gifts and Treasures yet, but is planning on visiting to shop soon.
“As someone who works in Albion, I think it’s important to support the local businesses, especially in small towns,” Hagan said.
The store allows people who are shopping for artistic pieces, like Hagan, to find a special handmade gift while also supporting a small business.
The downtown area of Albion has changed over the years. Most stores have become small, independent businesses rather than big corporate chains. Albion resident and Community Mobilizer Yvette Jirsaraie said she loves the store. Adding that, instead of shopping online and at chain stores, she chooses to shop locally.
“We’re excited about what they’re doing,” Jirsarie said. “They’re really making sure we have home-based businesses now.”
Oakley and Schleede said they are committed to keeping things local and supporting their vendors.
“Our store is a gateway to bigger things,” Oakley said. “If our store can be successful, hopefully, it can encourage other stores downtown.”