Y’all. The cutest boutique just showed up in Manhattan Beach and we couldn’t be happier about it. Gum Tree made it’s first home in Hermosa Beach, California and this past November, owner Lori Ford opened the third location in MB. We love perusing the shelves stocked with home decor, pretty jewelry, trendy cookbooks, and stationery, as well as an entire section dedicated to the cutest kids products out there. Lori shares more about everyone’s favorite place to shop here:
We love Gum Tree and the unique shopping experience it provides! How did you come up with the concept for the store?
Thank you! For as long as I can remember I always knew I wanted a shop of my own. I actually always wanted a shop inside a house, where each room sold items that you would use in that room, kitchen would have the cookbooks and serving pieces, living room coffee table books and pillows, etc. So when we found out the old house at 238 Pier was available we wasted no time.
Where did the name come from?
We wanted a name that would work for our cafe/shop concept, and also that would reflect our values on the environment and a bit of Aussie sensibility that my husband brings. When it came down to it, I was literally searching for names of plants and trees, and finding nothing I turned to my husband and asked him for some Aussie influence. After at least 20 ridiculous Aussie slang words and lots of laughing, out popped Gum Tree and right away we knew!
Tell us about your inventory. What brands and items to you carry? Do people come to Gum Tree shopping for something specific?
We stock home decor, gifts of all kinds, lots of jewelry, kids clothing, cookbooks and more. I buy what I like, what I would give as a gift, the kinds of things I would love to get, it’s really that simple. I am constantly searching for new things, I am endlessly inspired by travel, art, and instagram of course. We carry so many different brands, just because of our product mix and my constant need for change, but some of the brands I have carried since the beginning are Chan Luu, Jonathan Adler, Vilac France, Bla Bla. All of these have timeless style, but also continue to evolve each season. I love that they stay fresh with new ideas, but still represent quality and tradition.
People generally come to Gum Tree for gifts for others, and then they usually also leave with a little something for themselves. I have heard so many times from customers that they came for an iced tea and left with a new piece of jewelry!
What does your typical work day look like?
When running a small business, every day is full and I never know exactly what will happen or what will need attention. I start my day with an instagram post, of course. I can feel a bit unsettled until that first post is done. Then, depending on the time of year, I’m either in the shops, or out on buying trips. When in the shops it’s a combination of re-merchandising, chatting with customers, and just generally making sure that the shop looks beautiful, that we have the right amount of inventory, and that our customers are happy. Sometimes I’m photographing product for our next email or blog post, sometimes I’m answering questions about Gum Tree, all the time I’m answering emails from artists and suppliers who think their product would be great for us.
Because of the fact that we carry so many different categories of products I am out at shows a lot of the time. About a week out of every month I am dedicated to buying at shows or in appointments with reps. I think our customers love to come back to us because they will always find something new, boxes arrive nearly every day.
You now have 3 locations! What spurred you to take the jump, and open a second and third store?
Gum Tree opened in 2008, then Gum Tree Kids followed across the street at 323 Pier Avenue in 2013, and now our third location at 324 Manhattan Beach Blvd in November of 2016. We opened kids out of requests from our customers for more kids product. We had one little room in the original location with a bit of kids and it was really popular. So, when the space came up across the street we went for it.
We always wanted to open another Gum Tree, we just weren’t sure where, and when we had a flood at the kids shop we opened a quick pop up in the Manhattan Village Mall for 30 days. In that time we found out that 70% of people in the Manhattan Village Mall had NEVER HEARD OF US! So we started the search immediately for a space downtown Manhattan Beach. It took a couple of years to find the right space and to secure the deal and we are thrilled with our newest location.
The shops are so welcoming and beautiful! What inspired the interior design? Do you have a favorite section?
Thanks! As I mentioned before I really do just buy what I like. I am a very visual person and I’m constantly inspired by my surroundings. I love white walls, always have. Having bright white walls, wood floors, neutral furniture and accents allows me to change up the look of the shop with the product whenever I want. I do this at home too, just ask my husband. You can really change the look of a space with accessories, artwork, books, etc.
I really love to buy cookbooks, so the dining room section is always a favorite. I could look through cookbooks all day!
What is it like to own your own retail business? How do you stay motivated?
It’s hard work but very rewarding. This is our family business, my husband and I both work here, so it has to be successful. Saving for our kids college, and paying our rent is a pretty good motivator! But really, I stay motivated because I love my job, I’m always doing something new, learning something new, buying something new. It’s fun.
More working moms share their tips here!
Best business advice you’ve ever received?
Stay true to your vision and move forward on that path. And as soon as you can afford it hire a good accountant!