Shopping local in a time of need

By CONNIE NOLEN | Community Columnist

Gifted is a much-loved gift shop in Pelham. I first found Gifted and met the owner, Paige Burnette, after a PHS teacher revealed that Gifted had Pelham Panther gifts. I found those PHS gifts and much more enticing merchandise at Gifted.

I also discovered that Burnette was a PHS parent in those days with her thumb on the pulse of our community carrying college-themed gifts representing the universities that many PHS students were attending.

Gifts that would bring return customers for years, along with her warm personality, have won Burnette a loyal customer base. Seeing her post announcing that, aligning with the Governor’s order, Gifted would be closing on Saturday afternoon, I messaged Burnette to see if she’d agree to a few photos if I dropped by.

“I would love to chat with you! I am offering curbside delivery for those who don’t feel comfortable coming in the store I’m also offering free delivery to the local Pelham area,” Burnette said.  “Until 5 p.m. people are allowed inside the store, but we do need to keep a safe 6-foot distance between people.”

Arriving at Gifted, I found Burnette with Melissa Minor, a PHS 2012 alum. “Melissa came in to pick up a few gifts this morning–and she just stayed. I could not have gotten through this day without her,” Burnette said.

A customer and a friend, Minor decided to help on this last day before the pandemic lockdown. Gifted customers kept their distance and arrived intermittently—as if they’d timed and choreographed their visits.

“Pelham has always shown up for me,” Burnette said. “I really appreciate my customers.”

That, however, was before the latest order from Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey to close all non-essential businesses.

Checking on Burnette later, I asked if she had gotten the shop locked up without tears.

“I locked up,” she said. “I can’t promise that there weren’t tears.”

Planning to keep posting gifts online, Burnette hopes that she’ll be able to offer some curbside deliveries. While she hopes to be back, because of the uncertain duration of this break, she’s also looking for work—and learning new computer skills.

“Thanks so much to everyone who has supported Gifted!” Burnette said.