Kristin Packnett always dreamed of opening a small gift store, but she didn’t think it would happen so soon.
“When we moved to Fort Wayne from Oklahoma City, and I didn’t have a little go-to place for gifts…my whole vision went to, ‘why is my money going to the internet, to Chicago or to Indianapolis?” Packnett said.
That’s why she decided to create a place where people could find creative gifts right here in Fort Wayne. After six months of participating in smaller area markets, Opal & Ruby Gift Emporium opened a permanent location on Illinois Road.
“We are here for Fort Wayne to offer clever gift ideas,” Packnett said. “You’re not going to find most of the lines in Opal & Ruby in big box stores.”
Opal & Ruby sources most of their items from craft markets, but also stocks local, Northeast Indiana brands like MudLOVE and cinda b. Intentionality and strong customer service set the company apart.
“We build a relationship with our customers,” Packnett explained.
The store is a family endeavor: Kristin collaborates with her sister Kelli on the creative side — opal & ruby are their respective birthstones — and the company is co-owned by their father.
Packnett said that Small Business Saturday — a nationwide shopping day focused on local businesses, held the day after Black Friday — is “kind of a no-brainer if you own a small business.” This year, Opal & Ruby ran a big campaign and held extended store hours.
As for the partnership with GFW Inc.? Well, that’s a no-brainer too.
“It’s great to be an investor because you make the initial investment, but ultimately they invest back into you,” Packnett said. “It’s kind of a win-win situation.”
“I pay the initial fee, of course, but with that comes great marketing ability for my small business,” she explained. “My marketing budget is limited, and I can’t accomplish it all on my own. But they have tools and people that I can tap into as an investor.”
This came in handy on Small Business Saturday when GFW Inc. sent out a press release and worked to publicize the day. Beyond marketing, GFW Inc. supports Opal & Ruby in other ways.
“They are constantly telling me things I can be a part of as a small business owner,” Packnett added. “If I have a question, they are easy to get a hold of.”
Now a year and a half old, Opal & Ruby is growing — the company just added new staff members and Packnett is anticipating continued growth and expansion along with a continued partnership with GFW Inc.
“They support my business, and they support me as an entrepreneur.”