As a business owner, exposure is king. Reaching others helps grow your brand, and that, in turn, helps solidify longevity in your industry and overall success.
Shaye Davis is the entrepreneur behind Gifts Galore. She opened the store on North Green Street 12 years ago and specializes in custom apparel, trendy items like keychains and jewelry, and even carries specialty products like bookbags, raincoats, and more. Through the years, she has built a clientele that’s loyal and, above all else, local.
That’s by design, she says. Serving customers that live right here in Swainsboro and other Emanuel towns is a point of pride for her, and the prioritization of home is what ultimately led her to Gifts Galore’s next big thing.
Five years ago, Davis was compelled to create a tee shirt that would mean something to everyone here. Her “HOME” line caught fire—and it’s catching elsewhere, too. This year, thanks to good ol’ word-of-mouth advertising and strategic social media marketing, the HOME tees are expanding to two other towns.
“The first year we did a HOME tee, it was around the time of the Pine Tree Festival,” Davis recalled. “Some friends of mine wanted a tee shirt they could wear to the festivities that weekend but also wear it out and about anywhere, any time. The idea was to create something that incorporates elements of the festival and home, so that’s what we did.”
Indeed, Davis delivered. She and Brooke McBroom, who’s been a “Gifts Galore” girl for years, worked together and brought to life a tee shirt that was a hit right away. They created a top that featured a water tower, like the steel multi-column one on South Circle Drive, and incorporated a line of text that packed a punch for locals: “The roads that lead you HOME,” a nod to Swainsboro’s nickname, “Crossroads of the Great South.”
“We put our first shirt out on Facebook, and people loved it,” Davis said. “We had about 300 orders that first year. I think everybody liked it so much because it was different. It fit with the Pine Tree Festival since we incorporated some pine tree silhouettes into the design, but it was also, like we intended, something they could wear year-round. It was something Emanuel County didn’t have before—a signature tee, something pertinent to just us.”
Four years have passed, and each design has continually improved, although maintaining the same theme.
McBroom has been part of the process every year, but Davis has enlisted an array of others as well. Erick Bernard, Tanner Peebles, Kimberly Thigpen, Carla Womack, Boone at Blackmon Outfitters, as well as the team at Metter Graphics can all look back on various HOME tees and see their contributions.
Ahead of the 75th annual festival this year, Davis found herself bombarded with anticipation from locals in regard to the 2022 HOME tee. She knew she had to go big or bust, and she worked hard to ensure the former, not the latter, happened.
In late February, she began the design process and kept it quiet. She found herself frustrated to a degree because she was handling the design work in house, a change from years past. A conversation with a friend, Shayna Boston, changed the course of things.
“I had this idea that I wanted to combine at least one element from each of the shirts we had done before, and I just couldn’t get it right,” Davis explained. “Shayna was with me. She’s good with all that kind of stuff. She told me to move over. I did; I gave her my seat at my computer and within 30 minutes, she had our mock-up completed.”
They made minor changes to it, but none substantial enough to cause a delay in production. In fact, the duo was able to turn it up a notch, pounding out not one, not two, but three but more designs.
The next step, as usual, was the unveiling on Gifts Galore’s Facebook page, and people ate it up.
“We used sunflowers in one of the designs because that’s a very summery sight you’ll find when you ride our country roads, and we decided to bring back our iconic water tower, set in front of some Georgia pines. It has a ‘girly’ feel to it, so women in particular loved that one. The other big hit this year was something we created especially for the men. We set a big truck loaded with pine logs in front of the water tower and trees. It feels very masculine, and we’ve heard from several guys in the area that they finally feel like they have a tee for them, too.”
The third design is a simple dirt road with a water tower tucked away behind—you guessed it!—a thicket of pines. Front and center are three side-by-sides, which Davis and this year’s design team felt would be popular amongst a certain part of the local population, given riders’ enthusiasm during the warm months.
All of the designs feature the first textual branding of the inaugural shirt: “Where Crossroads Lead You HOME.”
Between the three options, Davis finished this year’s run with 523 orders. She and Jordyn Bell, the newest “GG” girl, worked long hours to make sure customers had their tees in time for the festival.
Yet, the work is far from over.
Davis has two other towns interested in her talents. Her hometown of Harlem and two small communities in Florida, Live Oak and White Springs, all want her to produce a similar tee for their areas, something that can be worn all the time and ties in prominent aspects of home.
The work is in its earliest stages. The Swainsboro designs came naturally since Davis has lived and worked here for years, so she innately knew the history and culture that needed to be incorporated into the tee. Harlem will be somewhat of the same since she lived there earlier in life, but Live Oak and White Springs will be a challenge. To ensure Gifts Galore puts out an equally impressive and meaningful HOME tee for those two places, Davis and her team will work with hometown folks from those two areas to get a feel for expectations. They’ll also learn through research the important elements of Harlem, Live Oak, and White Springs to incorporate into their respective tees.
“Our goal for these new HOME tees is the same as the goal we set for our Emanuel County tee: to create something new that has significance to the people who wear them. We’re excited to be able to branch out in this way, but I want people here to know that we’re local first and foremost,” Davis said. “No matter how many other towns reach out, our HOME tee will always our priority. We’re going to take care of these other areas to the best of our ability because that’s what Gifts Galore does and we’ll continue to take on other towns as long as we can because we want to succeed as a business, but we’re really proud of what we started and we’ll keep it going here at home as long as there’s a desire for our tees.”
On that note, Davis feels the desire will be long-running. Once she rolled out this year’s designs, she was approached by a local firefighter’s wife. This woman pitched to Davis an idea for a tee that would pay homage to the local people who work in emergency public service.
Out of that conversation, a sub-brand of the HOME line was born. The result were shirts individually designed for firefighters, EMS workers, 911 dispatchers, and police officers.
Next came a shirt for the Swainsboro Jaycees.
Gifts Galore has also designed a Christmas-themed HOME shirt, along with HOME hats, drink koozies, ornaments, and keychains.
Clearly, the sky’s the limit for Gifts Galore’s HOME line—and the folks around town will be donning these trendy tees for years as they boost the business to the top.
“I was a little shocked at first, seeing how much people loved them. As a designer, you think, ‘It’s just a shirt.’ But when you think about it, it’s really not. This is a way for our clothes (and accessories) to tell who we are as a community, and it makes me really proud that every one of our signature original tees are made from scratch,” Davis said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it when you see your product frequently when you’re out and about. We hope we’ll be blessed enough to come up with better designs year after year. We at Gifts Galore are proud to do this for our area, and we thank everyone who has supported us since we started.”
If you’re interested in ordering from Davis, join their Facebook group at https://www.facebook.com/GiftsGaloreMonogrammingMore or visit 106 North Green Street in Swainsboro.