GIFT SHOP FLOURISHES ON FAMILY FARM

By Jessica Harlan

Exteria porch area with potted plants in front.

A 22-acre family farm is the picturesque setting for Mt. Airy Junction, a gift shop that also features a farm market and a greenhouse. Shirley Baer and her daughters, Denise Baer and Dianna Miller, oversee the business which has been family owned and operated since Dianna, fresh out of high school, opened a little shop to sell the family’s vegetables and handmade crafts. Dianna reveals how Mt. Airy Market has become a local institution for gifts and clothing.


What makes your store unique?

We’ve evolved with the trends. We’ve changed from a primitive country store selling home decor to a boutique that carries gifts, clothing, food products, bath and body, and everything in between. I think the fact that we have an 1800- squarefoot greenhouse on the property also sets us apart. We use the space

for our produce and flowers in the summer, and seasonal displays at Christmas time.


How would you describe the atmosphere of your store?

Our store’s building looks like an old country barn. Inside, the walls are rustic lumber with wood shelving throughout and accent colors of spa blue, cream and black. It looks more upscale inside than you would expect from the exterior. Paint has been our friend – we always use it to update our look!


To what do you attribute your success?

We do a little bit of everything, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, we discovered how important it was to have diversity. We were able to open up quickly after the first shutdown because we had a wide variety of things for sale including produce. The shop local mindset has been great for us. Now people have the mindset to shop locally, so we’ve been busy the past two years.


What is one of your favorite new product lines?

We started carrying local handmade wooden charcuterie boards. We sell cheese knives and dipping dishes, decorative napkins and other accessories to go with them, and we carry food products that can be used to make a beautiful charcuterie spread, such as peanuts, dips, mustards and more.


How do you promote your store?

We have a huge email list that we’ve collected over the years, and we send email blasts a couple times a week. We also do directional billboards since we’re off the beaten path, and we advertise on the cover of our local magazine several times a year.


Looking back, what’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

Listening to your customers and keeping up with the times is really important. You have to change and evolve with the new trends, and it’s not always what you love, it’s what our community loves.


How do you stay inspired?

We get inspiration going to the gift shows, as well as from listening to our

customer base. And, of course, we’re grateful to our full-time employees, students, family, friends and local growers — they all inspire us to keep going strong!