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POLAND -- Rochelle Hancock always had had a dream to open a gift shop, so she took advantage of some



Published: Sun, February 24, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



POLAND -- Rochelle Hancock always had had a dream to open a gift shop, so she took advantage of some attractive retail space that became available in 1987 and opened Home Classics in the Towne One Square.

"For years and years, I always had in the back of my mind to open a gift shop. I used to talk about it to my family," Hancock said.

One of the store owners in the plaza had been renting some additional space for storage or potential expansion. When the store owner gave up the space, Hancock acted.

"I hadn't planned on opening a store at that time, but the timing was right, and I just loved the look of the plaza," she said.

Background: Hancock is originally from Tennessee and moved to this area when her husband was transferred here 35 years ago. The couple has three children. When the youngest was in first grade, Hancock began attending Youngstown State University and became a registered nurse.

She had worked at the former Southside Hospital and now works full time at Forum Health Northside Medical Center. She has three employees who work at the store.

Atmosphere: The store has the appearance of an old country store with wooden floors and custom-made shelving for a warm, cozy feel.

"This place is designed for the whole family. There is something here for everyone," Hancock said.

The store has collectibles with a big accent on pottery.

"I buy from six different potters, and lots of the pieces are hand-turned. In addition to the pottery, I have Virginia Metalcrafters Brass and all types of candles," she said.

When she spots something she thinks would sell well at the shop, she tracks down the supplier and orders the item.

Educational toys and a candy counter make the gift shop "kid-friendly."

"When I started out, I had a lot of antiques in the store, and throughout the years, I've sold them. Buying them is very time-consuming, but eventually, I'd like to again add them to my inventory," she said.

Customers: One of the most enjoyable parts of the business is meeting customers, she said.

"I have an amazing group of customers, and throughout the years have gotten to know them and even developed some friendships."




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