Despite individual contributions, Payne said, "All of us do the wrapping. Even my husband is going to learn to gift wrap."
Free gift wrapping is one of the perks of shopping at Eggplant. Another advantage is that the staff probably knows the recipient of the gift and what things she likes.
Payne smiles. "The men. They come in with that deer-in-the-headlights look. They don't want to be here; they are out of their element."
The staff knows to help them as fast as possible, but it's store policy to greet every customer and to check back with them. "It's that local feel. We really know our customers."
It's not unusual for a customer to call in a purchase. "We ring it up, box it and may run it out to the car."
To encourage young mothers to enter a shop full of breakables, Payne said there is a children's table with paper and crayons in the foyer outside the shop. The doors to the outside are too heavy for a child to push open.
"I love to see people with children up here," said Payne. "We have suckers behind the counters. It's family-friendly."
As for her own family, they know they aren't going to see much of her in November and December. She said her husband enjoys being at home with their children, ages 13, 11 and 9, and he'll serve as the shop's accountant.
"I tell people he's in charge of accounts payable, and I'm in charge of accounts spendable."
She'll go to the Atlanta gift market for the first time in January. Thebe Warren will go with her. And although she knows the tastes of Eggplant's core customers, she hopes to add her own style. She likes bling and quirky.
Payne also wants to develop an app for Eggplant, re-energize its website and establish a Facebook presence.
Payne has a journalism degree in advertising as well as a master's in business from West Virginia University. She was assistant general manager for the WVU student newspaper The Daily Athenaeum and worked in advertising for Gino's and Tudor's restaurants and Stone & Thomas department store before settling down as a stay-at-home mom for several years.
"This is my forte," Payne said, looking around the colorful, sparkling shop last week. "I love this job. I am happy to be here."
Eggplant and the other locally owned shops and restaurants on Bridge Road "are an important part of Charleston. I am proud to have been a part of that," said Warren.
Reach Rosalie Earle at ea...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5115.