Jillian’s Corner Cottage employee Joan Giese admires the flower baskets in the front yard of the gift shop, 102 South Fulton St., Princeton. Hannah Tetzlaff photo
by Hannah Tetzlaff
The ring was round and small, like a baby-sized ring. It was passed down from one generation to the next and soon became a priceless family heirloom.
The current owner of the ring would wear it on a chain around her neck, and when she went shopping, the ring would come with.
Until one day, it didn’t come back.
The woman had gone shopping one day in December perhaps for a gift for Christmas, but when she returned from her trip, the ring no longer was on the chain.
It had disappeared, possibly forever.
Realizing what might have happened, the distressed customer called the gift store, asking if they had seen her family’s precious ring. Try as the store employee might, she could not find the round treasure.
After months of not seeing nor hearing any sign of the ring, the lady received a call. The shop owners told her the wonderful news. When all hope may have seemed lost, the ring was found.
While moving shelves and furniture around for spring cleaning, the store owners stumbled upon the small ring, finding it near the entrance of the shop’s main room. The woman was reunited with her ring and was happy that the shop owners remembered her.
Though it may seem like a tale from a children’s book, this was one of the ways that owners Bill Farley and Jill Dietz of Jillian’s Corner Cottage, 102 South Fulton St., Princeton, help their customers.
Farley and Dietz in October 2013 opened their gift shop, which originally was an old, historical house that was set to be demolished before they saved it.
Since their grand opening, they followed their motto to a T: “A gift store and more. Something for everyone.” The owners fulfill their motto by trying to cater to their customers’ needs such as personally shopping for and picking out any items that customers request.
To meet their customers’ desires, the store is categorized by several rooms, each with its own theme.
The main room which houses candles, gift baskets and jewelry; the checkout room that has retro-theme items from the 1950s and 1960s; the Man Cave Room with Northwoods, farm, fishing, hunting and sports decor; the back room, which offers stuffed animals, clothing, accessories and theme-gifts for special occassion such as weddings; and the All-Year-Round Christmas room, which houses five rotating Christmas trees and a variety of holiday decor.
Farley and Dietz travel a long distance to find unique but affordable items for their store’s customers.
“We do a lot of things for customers that I don’t know that everybody would do too,” shop employee Joan Giese said. “Whenever somebody is coming in and looking for something, she [Dietz] puts it on her list, and when they go shopping they search for it. They search and pick up everything personally. They feel it and pack it and do not order it from the catalogue or over the internet.”
Farley and Dietz’s shopping takes them all over the United States to find the right items for their customers.
“They usually shop in Atlanta, Minneapolis, some times in Florida, Chicago, whereever there is a good sale going on,” Giese said. “They drive and they have a van, and they also have a trailer …They look for bargains, so that they can get something that they can bring back here and can sell and that people can afford rather than having to pay higher prices.”
Giese belives the prices set Jillian’s Corner Cottage apart from other stores in the area.
“If you take a look around at our prices, you will find they are below in comparison to a lot of other stores, and is one of the reasons why I think it is a unique store for our town along with a variety of things you can get,” she said.
Some customers that visit aren’t always from the area, so the shop offers special services for them.
“We do extra for people who are traveling like on their motorcycles or flying, so we bubble wrap for them and that kind of thing so that they don’t have to worry about breakage,” Giese said.
This year the shop hosted a new, month-long event in celebration of their customers.
“This is the first time we have had June Customer Appreciation Month,” Giese said. “It’s to celebrate our customors, to give them a treat and to have an opportunity to draw a basket.
“Each week during the month of June, we have specials and we put up new fliers. We have gift baskets, and we have it out there when you come in that you can sign your name and at the end of the week, we have a drawing.”
Besides their new event for the month of June, the shop offers other celebrations throughout the year such as Christmas in July, Crazy Days in August, Sweet Event in September, Christmas in Princeton during Thanksgiving weekend, Hometown Holidays in December and Nurture Her event in May.
With each event, the shop decorates accordingly and offers music, treats and more.
The gift shop is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. except on Flea Market Saturday, when it opens at 9 a.m.