Where the wildflower grows

Published 1:19 pm Monday, July 16, 2018

One of the most talked-about recent developments in downtown Huntington is The Market, a food and shopping destination located on Third Avenue. Wildflower Gift Gallery was the first business to open in the space.

“Our first day was Small Business Saturday 2017,” said owner Judy Davis. “I had been working on it for about a year. My brother-in-law, Phil Nelson, is one of the men doing the development. When he started, I thought, ‘Now’s my time. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it now.’ I’ve always dreamed about having my own little shop.”

Davis, a Marshall graduate with a background in finance and business law, had done pharmaceutical and medical device sales for 20 years before becoming an entrepreneur.

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“I got laid off,” she said. “It ended up being a blessing, though, because it made me do something that I had wanted to do but hadn’t. You know, it’s hard to give up like that. Even when I started to want to do something different and get off the road, I couldn’t make myself leave.”

Even with her background, Davis said this new venture has been a change.

“I never dreamed of how hard it would be,” she said. “It’s the keeping up with everything, that’s difficult. You have to have new things coming in constantly. But, I enjoy it — I like buying gifts for other people anyway — and it’s rewarding. It might sound silly, but it really is nice to know that you’re helping people making a difference with even a small gift.”

Davis said it was her daughter, Ashley, that created Wildflower’s logo and came up with the name.

“I knew it was on trend to go with something natural and earthy,” she said. “I also knew I wanted to have the word “gallery” in it because I wanted to have artwork. I was having such trouble, I’d ask all my friends and family. It took me so long to come to it, but as soon as she said it, I knew that was it.”

Davis runs the shop on a day-to-day basis with the help of two employees, including her sister-in-law. She also credits JR Smith, of Phoenix Building Creations, LLC, and Steve Matheny of Matheny and Sons General Contracting, LLC, for helping put the pieces together.

“It really does take a team,” Davis said.

Cards, baskets, wind chimes, pottery, cutting boards, jewelry and glassware are just some of the items on the shelves at Wildflower Gift Gallery. There’s also plenty of Marshall University and West Virginia-themed pieces, furniture and lighting. It’s one of the only places in the area that carries Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Home candle line.

“I try to think of everything people might want. You have to invest in your inventory,” she said. “I have limited space, so I move things in and out all the time to keep things fresh. I can also special order things if there is something a customer is looking for and hasn’t found. I want to be the person they come to,”

Davis finds most of her inventory at AmericasMart Atlanta, a huge wholesale market, or through local artisans.

“It’s so fun for me to give people a place to show their stuff,” she said. “I encourage potential vendors to reach out.”

Even with the ongoing construction at The Market, Davis said the response to Wildflower and The Market has been overwhelmingly positive, and she looks forward to the future.

“You can’t believe the traffic that we get — people love coming in, checking out what’s here and spending time. There’s such a buzz. When it’s all open, it’s going to be amazing,” she said. “I think we need this — I think Huntington needs something positive, something happy. Downtown is looking so good, and people love coming down here. I admire all of the people that have been working so hard to make things better, and I’m happy to be a part of it. It’s so exciting.”

Wildflower Gift Gallery, located inside The Market at 809 Third Avenue in Huntington, is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, call 304-638-3760 or email wildflowergiftgallery@gmail.com. Follow Wildflower Gift Gallery on Facebook and Instagram (@WildflowerGiftGallery)