When Jackie Rodriquez created Personal Reflections at 445 Main St., Bernville, with her husband, Javier, six years ago, as her job was being down-sized by a utility company, she wasn't certain in what direction the fledgling business would grow.
She had seen the job loss coming and prepared for it by buying and renovating the federal style, brick and shutters, semi-detached that was built in 1827 to house a doctor and his practice. (The second floor was always common space for both sides of the building, while the two downstairs halves were joined with the removal of a wall in the early 1960s.)
Rodriquez started with Boyd's Bears not because she was then a collector, but because they were "so cute and they seemed to fit every occasion."
She's now a collector, with at least one of the fanciful creatures for every holiday of the year.
"Their target market is women like me and they've managed to hit it," she laughed, noting that even without a tag she can immediately spot a Boyd's product.
She's also expanded the shop to include stationary, greeting cards, bath and body products, various collectibles, based one her regular attendance at the major gift shows in New York City and elsewhere, but also with the work of local craftsmen.
"We try to give them as much of a break as we can," she said, noting the shop usually carries the work of 10-15 craftsmen at any one time and is particularly well-stocked at holidays like Christmas.
When she first decided to feature local works she traveled to craft shows to invite craftsmen into the shop, but now the shop's reputation has spread and the craftsmen are knocking on the blue front door.
Among the handcrafted items in the shop are Bill Coleman's Amish Odyssey Photographs, theorem paintings by Donna Marie, scherenschnitte from TC Art Studio, primitive style furniture from Bern-Elem Reproductions and hand-woven baskets by Adelle Dietrich.
A full room of the former home/doctor's office is packed with local crafts, while all the other rooms on both floors are packed with items that truly are reflections of the personal styles, wants and interests of Rodriquez and her customers.
The name is a nice fit, although it may not have been designed that way in the beginning. Rodriquez and her husband came up with a name that was not too specific because "we weren't sure what direction the business was going to take. The market was going to drive it."
Personal Reflections' location at the north end of Bernville's main thoroughfare today may seem a bit off the beaten path, but that same streets "used to be Main Street USA," said Rodriquez, who believes the community's business district will eventually experience a resurgence as the many housing developments around the town continue to grow. From time to time spots signs of that possibility here and there in the many available storefronts.
In the meantime, she draws regular walk-in customers from an area that extends into adjoining counties and an Internet clientele from across the country.
Rodriquez encourages customer loyalty with the Boyd Bears and Hares Gift Club, in which members receive $10 off their 11th purchase after buying 10 bears for $10 or more each.
The annual Bernville Community Yard Sale the first Saturday in June is another big customer-builder for the shop.
Rodriquez holds a big sale throughout the store and packs an outside discount area with "collectibles they're not normally supposed to get big discounts on."
ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ ˆ More Information: 610-488-7509, 888-444-3302, www.personalreflections.com.