The sisters set to open a children’s shop in downtown Albemarle to honor their grandparents – Reuters

From playing with an old-fashioned cash register to helping their grandmother label items, sisters Brittney Speights and Meredith Long have many fond memories of their grandparents’ store, Gifts and Wraps Unlimited, in Locust.

Wanting to recreate the nostalgia of their past, the sisters have their own business, Leo’s Little Clothing Co., which opens at 10 a.m. Saturday in downtown Albemarle. An official ribbon cutting with the Stanly County Chamber of Commerce will take place on July 30.

What began online in April has now expanded to a physical location at 103 N. First St., Suite B. The name is derived from their grandparents, Leonard and Kay Howell; Leo’s is short for Leonard and Little is Kay’s maiden name.

Nervous about opening up, the duo expressed excitement about getting to know their customers in person and continuing the basics of the service their grandparents started.

“You could walk in, you could buy a present and have it wrapped there, which I think is a lost art now,” Brittney said.

The Howells, who have both retired from their previous careers, have formed strong bonds with many people throughout the county with their store. Married for more than 60 years, the couple had deep ties within the Locust community, as Leonard served on the town council and Kay played the organ for the Carolina Presbyterian Church.

“Everyone always tells us, ‘I wish this store was still open,'” Brittney said.

Leonard and Kay Howell outside their Locust Gifts and Wraps Unlimited stop. Photo courtesy of Brittney Speights.

While Brittney and Meredith admitted they didn’t have “the art of gift-wrapping”, as parents of young children, they thought opening a children’s boutique could help fill that gap. they saw as a void in the community.

Meredith Long and Brittney Speights in front of their new store. Photo courtesy of Brittney Speights.

“We really felt that we wanted to rectify what they needed to do in a way that made it meaningful to us and meaningful to the community,” Brittney said.

Shortly after Leonard’s death in 2017, Meredith found out she was expecting her first child. Although he hasn’t been there to see his great-grandchildren, “we see his personality so much in them, so we just felt like he chose those kids for us,” Brittney said. .

Originally wanting to settle in Locust, the sisters decided on the current location once their friend Kalyn Luther, owner of Whiskey Eunoia next door, told them about the retail space.

“She kind of pushed us in and since then everything kind of fell into place,” Brittney said.

Leo’s offers different brands of clothing and accessories for children up to 5 or 6 years old, including t-shirts and tops, dresses, swimwear and a variety of retro hats and sunglasses. Sizes range from infants to 5T, although they plan to expand to eventually include up to size 10.

“We’re slowly getting younger sizes,” Brittney said.

All of the clothes are sourced directly from other small business owners, whom the sisters have come to know and build relationships with.

“When you support us, you’re not just supporting our small business, but you’re supporting tons of other small businesses around the world,” Brittney said.

In one section of the store, there is a black and white frame with the words “every family has a story…welcome to ours”, with a photo of the Howells and a short biography of their life below.

The store includes a small tribute to Brittney and Meredith’s grandparents.

The sisters said they were confident their grandparents would be proud of all they accomplished.

“They opened the store in Locust as a way to serve their community and be part of their community, and so I think they would view (the store) as a legacy that has been carried on,” Brittney said.

The store will be open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

David H. Henry