Siblings follow their dreams, open gift shop

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2006

NATCHEZ &8212; Sisters Erin Elizabeth Delaney and Amy Delaney Gamberi did not give big discount stores a second thought as they began to dream of opening their own store.

Now their dream has come true, as they have opened Amy Elizabeth at 29 Seargent S. Prentiss Drive, Suite 2.

&8220;Amy and I have always talked about opening a store,&8221; Delaney said. &8220;She&8217;s very creative, and I have a business degree. We opened January 14.&8221;

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They looked around for commercial space, first scouting the downtown area. &8220;We didn&8217;t want to buy a building right away,&8221; Delaney said. &8220;We liked this location, and it has a good deal of traffic.&8221;

Nestled beside beauty salons and a new Italian-style restaurant and across from Piggly Wiggly, Pizza Hut and Fred&8217;s Discount Store, Amy Elizabeth features small gifts and children&8217;s items and has just added screen printing.

&8220;We were told to expect it to be slow at first, but we&8217;ve done well so far,&8221; Gamberi said.

With her fulltime position as a second-grade teacher at Cathedral School, Gamberi must hustle to keep up with business demands.

Her daughter, Mia, is 5 years old and is accustomed to having a busy mother, who now also is expecting a second child. &8220;Mia has always gone with the flow,&8221; she said, as has her husband, computer consultant Jay Gamberi.

&8220;I like to paint and decorate and have always done things like that for my friends and their children,&8221; she said.

&8220;I like making gift baskets, putting things together that you might not ordinarily put together.&8221;

Personalized lap desks and decorative hanging canvases for children have been popular items.

The sisters come by their entrepreneurship naturally, as their father, David Delaney, fulltime director of Management of Information Systems at Natchez Regional Medical Center, opened Computer Consultants in the 1980s.

Their mother, Shirley Delaney, recently opened Mail Express, a business that assists customers with mailing needs.

By summer, Erin Delaney hopes to complete the Web site for Amy Elizabeth, opening new and important doors for sales and exposure.

&8220;I build Web sites at Computer Consultants,&8221; she said. She also is the business manager at the family-owned company.

The sisters did research and enlisted the aid of a friend who knows about screen printing before deciding to buy the press for their business.

&8220;We&8217;ve worked on this and know what we&8217;re doing,&8221; Delaney said. &8220;We did our research.&8221;

They will print special orders but also will print their own T-shirts. &8220;We want to do our own Mardi Gras and St. Patrick&8217;s Day T-shirts,&8221; she said.

Best of all, they will not be tied to any particular bulk number of shirts in any one order. &8220;We&8217;ll print only a few if that&8217;s what someone wants,&8221; Delaney said.

Both women like the Internet and searched Web sites for many of the items they sell in the shop.

The key to their success will be remaining different from others, Delaney said. They see little competition from among the big discount stores.

&8220;At the big stores you see the same things. Here we have unique things,&8221; Delaney said. &8220;The big nationally-based stores are just different. We&8217;re a small local business and don&8217;t want to be anything else.&8221;