Sylvania shop celebrates fifth anniversaryWritten by Michael Stainbrook | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For Lisa Kernes, Aug. 20, 2005, was an emotional day. She found herself at the end of a month-long whirlwind remodeling process and opened her own card-making business, First Impressions. As her first customers explored the small shop in Sylvania Historical Village, she thought of her mother, who had died on that date the previous year.
“I kept thinking, ‘I wish she was here. She’d be so happy and proud of me’,” Kernes said. “It was just a big sense of pride and the overwhelming warmth from everybody that came.” Five years later, First Impressions still has its homey feel. Kernes continues her craft in a quaint little shop tucked back from its Main Street entrance. She makes her own cards, calendars and recipe books, sells scrapbooking supplies and offers classes to those who share her passion for homemade gifts.
“I like that she’s got a wide variety of things you can do there. There’s no scrapbooking stores around here,” said Sheila Peralis, who also teaches classes at the shop.
Kernes decided to start First Impressions when the scrapbooking store where she worked closed. She spotted a “For Rent” sign hanging in the front window of the vacant shop and secured the building. A month later, Kernes was making first impressions: she estimates 300 customers came to the grand opening.
“I have a lot of friends, and a lot of my friends just got word out,” she said. “Word of mouth is your best way of advertisement.”
Kernes makes her cards by embossing images using a brass template and stylus. She then cuts out the embossed images and attaches them to her cards. She recently bought a printer to produce cards she designs electronically.
First Impressions was not immune to the recession. Kernes said her business took a dip, but has rebounded recently with the opening of three new shops in Sylvania Historical Village. Bumble Floral and Gifts, Dragonfly Artisan Tea Cottage and Limelight Boutique all opened this summer and have attracted many shoppers to Kernes’ doorstep. Bumble’s owner even removed trees on its property that had blocked the view of First Impressions from the street.
“Business has been phenomenal,” Kernes said. “It’s just been wonderful since they all came in.”
Wedding invitations in the spring and Christmas cards in the winter make those two seasons especially busy. Kernes said she has made cards for up to 1,000 guests before. Small orders require a couple days to complete while larger ones take multiple weeks.
First Impressions also offers classes a few days a month. Peralis and Marla Nejvara teach card- and calendar-making techniques alongside Kernes, who said she would only be able to teach a couple classes a month without any help. Nejvara said about five to eight people attend each class, but Kernes said her calendar classes in July have attracted 30 people.
The classes cost $15 to $20, and attendees keep the item they make. A schedule of classes and specials is online at www.firstimpressionsbylisa.com.
First Impressions is located at 5727 N. Main St. in Sylvania. The shop is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It’s nice when you make a hobby a business,” Kernes said. “I love it. It’s been wonderful.”
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