Originally published in the November 2016 issue of Berks County Living
Over the last 50 years, It’s a Gift! has transformed from a craft consignment shop to a trendy mid- to high-end gift boutique. Much like the gifts you can purchase inside, the store begs to be unwrapped with is bright red door, blue awnings, and striped curtains. But this store has so much more to offer than first meets the eye.
Berks County’s Best Gift Shop
It’s a Gift! has come a long way since opening its doors in 1966. Originally established as a consignment shop for local crafters, it has been transformed into the “go to” gift store in Berks County. Its reputation as a quality shop for all ages and genders has earned it the title of Preferred Bridal Registry of the Reading Museum and Best of Berks for two years running.
The selection of one-of-a-kind artisan items ranges from home décor to stylish women’s accessories and jewelry, infant wear and children’s toys, delicious treats, and a wonderful bath and body selection. There is no better place to find the perfect holiday, wedding and shower gifts, birthday, anniversary and special occasion items, or a little self-indulgence.
Handpicked for Success
The shop has not always been the artisan boutique that it is today. In fact, for most of its history the sign read Women’s Exchange of Reading, and many shoppers thought it was a secondhand store. Four years ago it was given a “facelift” and started doing business as It’s a Gift!. The new packaging has been a success, the store’s sales have increased nearly 80% since the change.
Along with its new look, the store’s offerings have also been revitalized. While they still strive to showcase local artisans, the women of It’s a Gift! now travel in search of the perfect pieces to line their shelves. “One of our goals is to have a lot of local artisans, but we don’t limit it to that because we want to be extremely unique and different,” explained Sallie Weaver, the organization’s president. They also supplement their offerings with high-end manufactured goods to provide a variety of choices for everyone on your list. Weaver said the store is continuously growing, with so many exciting new offerings being added that the store may one day expand.
More Than Meets the Eye
It’s a Gift! is not only a great place to shop, it’s also a charitable nonprofit organization. Proceeds are donated to a select local charity each year; the current beneficiary is Breast Cancer Support Services of Berks County.
The boutique is a modern iteration of the historic Women’s Exchange. Since 1832 the women’s exchange movement has been one of the country’s oldest continuously operating charity movements, and our local store is a testament to its success. Exchanges were once fashionable shops where women could sell their home-produced merchandise on consignment, and in the 20th century there were more than 200 across the country. Now the store on Penn Avenue is now one of less than 20 remaining. “By shopping at It’s a Gift! you are also helping to preserve history,” Weaver said. So next time you are looking for that perfect present, shop local and give a gift that gives twice.
Did you know?
Team Effort It’s a Gift! has only one paid employee. The store is run almost entirely by its team of more than 40 volunteers.
Trend Setter Not all exchanges are gift shops, some are antiques shops or team rooms, but a few of the remaining gift shops across the country have also adopted the It’s a Gift! name to revamp their reputations.