By Ashleigh Jones
Photos by Kelsea Schafer
Many moments in life are worth celebrating. Whether the occasion is a birthday, graduation, wedding, newborn arrival or anniversary, all these life events call for joyous observance through gift-giving. Nothing makes a gift more special than the thoughtfulness in its selection and presentation, which makes Wrapsody, a local gift boutique that excels at this process, a great place to find the perfect gift for any occasion.
At Wrapsody, store-goers can meander inside to discover a plethora of products designed for all ages. Their eyes might first catch a splash of color from a nearby dress rack or they may smell the lovely aromas of candles, body lotions and perfume on an adjacent display shelf. Either way, friendly retail associates called “Wrappettes” help customers make their selections before tenderly wrapping the gifts in an assortment of cellophane, tissue paper, ribbons and stickers.
“We gift wrap it as the cherry on top,” says Christie Howell, owner of Wrapsody. Customers do not have to worry about the extra step of wrapping their present and can instead go directly to a dinner party with their beautifully wrapped hostess gift, she says.
Offering quality experiences for customers is even more important as online shopping has increased over the years, and Wrapsody likes to be that difference when people come in, Christie says.
Wrapsody’s commitment to customer care is evident in its success. On Friday, Sept. 8, the store won the Gold Retailer of the Year Award from the Alabama Retail Association in the Annual Sales $5 million to $20 million category. Wrapsody’s expansion efforts helped it win the award, Christie says that she was told.
“I’m so honored to have won that,” Christie says. “I feel like that is a huge accomplishment for not only myself, but also all the people that I work with.”
When Wrapsody was founded in 2004 by Terry Shea and Sarah Brown, they started with a Hoover location before adding an Auburn store five years later. In 2017, the owners decided to sell the business to Christie, who had worked at Wrapsody during her college years at Auburn.
Once the leadership passed to her, Christie and her husband opened a third Trussville location in May 2020, despite the difficulties that the pandemic created.
“That was an interesting time to open a store,” she says “We had finished the build-out, done all those things and we said, ‘Let’s just open and see what happens.” The store’s opening went well despite the pandemic, and it continues to serve its customers to this day.
Wrapsody’s expansion, however, does not end there. A new location in downtown Homewood opened on Oct. 4, and Christie plans for a fifth location to open in Huntsville in 2024.
Christie credits part of Wrapsody’s success to the store’s customer base, especially during the pandemic.
“Our customers have been so loyal to us and keep coming in every single day, and it really has been a whirlwind the last three years,” she says.
When it comes to shopping, Wrapsody provides a wide variety of products to choose from. The stores sell everything from clothes, shoes, jewelry and accessories to pottery, decor, body and bath products and more.
“We have lots of different products from home products to every candle that you can imagine,” says Nicole Mezrano, store manager at the Trussville location.
Some of Christie’s favorite products include the NEST New York candles and fragrances.
“I’m a big candle fan,” she says of NEST.
For Hoover assistant store manager, Angel Harris, it’s the fashion and accessories that catch her eye.
“We love our eNewton bracelets,” she says. Oliver Thomas, a fashion bag brand, is another one of her favorites in the store.
Not only do customers get to choose from a wide variety of products, but the gifts are also catered to various ages and life events such as weddings, anniversaries and new arrivals. The gift wrapping is also customized, depending on the event. For instance, pink and blue sheer ribbons are used for baby gifts, while white ribbon is bound on wedding presents.
Besides offering a wide range of products, Wrapsody also puts on special events throughout the year for customers to enjoy. In November, Wrapsody has a company-wide Christmas open house sale, and in May, an event called “Girls Day Out.” During these events, customers can buy products at a discount, receive door prizes and grab a swag bag, all while eating provided appetizers.
Around Eastertime in spring, the season denoting new life, the store holds an event called “Chicks and Ducks,” which allows customers to observe and pet baby chicks and ducks in the store.
“It’s just a fun tradition that we have carried on from the previous owners,” Christie says.
While special events provide high-energy, celebratory moments among customers, other subtle moments bring enjoyment. According to Angel, one woman who lost her husband and moved to Hoover, came into Wrapsody to shop. The visit became the highlight of her week and she continued to shop there.
“She’s literally said that we helped her get through that year,” Angel says.
Additional customers become close to the staff that work in the stores.
“The customers that we have become like family,” Nicole says
One customer who went on a vacation brought back chocolates from Ireland to share with the staff, Nicole says.
In addition to befriending customers, Wrapsody helps communities by supporting Alabama businesses and fundraising for local causes. For instance, a line of lotions comes from 1818 Farms, a bath and beauty brand and farm in Mooresville, Alabama.
Wrapsody also features Joyce’s Cheese Straws, an Alabama-based company. Birmingham artist Porter Rivers sells his watercolor art in the store as well.
In addition, Christie spent time teaching before taking over Wrapsody, so the store helps fundraise for local schools in Auburn, Hoover and Trussville.
“Most of our customers have children in the local schools, and I just feel like that’s important to give to,” Christie says.
Whether it is putting on special events, supporting local causes, featuring Alabama vendors or befriending customers, Wrapsody tries to provide customers with positive experiences that will stay with them after they leave. The store name, itself, is a play-on word for “Rhapsody,” denoting high enthusiasm, joy and bliss.
“We hope our customers leave that way,” Christie says of Wrapsody’s moniker. “We like to say that we’re wrapping up happiness every day.”
To learn more about Wrapsody, visit wrapsodyonline.com or follow the business on Instagram @shopwrapsody.