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2015-05-07

'Happy Mothers Day' at Boyle's No nuts & bolts for Mom here

By Judith Pannebaker BCC Editor

Just in time for Mothers Day, Sunday, May 10, Johnny Boyle, owner of Boyle's Bandera True Value, has announced the addition of a new line of gift items and houseplants to his hardware store at 1002 Main Street.
In charge of all the new goodies is Debbie Stratton - no stranger to supplying local residents with imaginative and useful gift items. After being tapped by Diana Braun, Stratton for years became the prime mover behind the popular gift shop within Braun Drugstore and later Braun Medicine Chest.
Located at 1202 Main Street, the building now houses a CVS Pharmacy. Stratton left the pharmacy shortly after the mega-corporation purchased the smaller pharmacy chain.
"I've known Johnny (Boyle) for 30 years, but when I ran into him at a New Year's Eve party, I said, 'I may be knocking on your door looking for a job.' He replied, 'You have it,' and that was that," Stratton said in an interview on Thursday, April 30.
She started as a cashier, but quickly worked her way up the managerial ladder at Boyle's hardware store.
"When CVS bought Boyle's Pharmacy and Johnny knocked down an interior wall, I said, 'Everyone in town wants a gift shop. Let's do it'," Stratton said. To his credit, Boyle wasted no time. He appointed Stratton as "buyer-in-chief" and the new enterprise was off and running.
Stratton immediately enlisted the help of Cheryl Mydland, whom she describes as "awesome," as a merchandiser and her right-hand woman.
Although thwarted at first by a dockworker's strike in California, gift items purchased at the January Merchandise Mart in Dallas continue to arrive daily. However, the shelves in the gift section are already amply stocked with an enticing array of merchandise - all of which Stratton is justifiably proud.
"We're incorporating some western items because that's what tourists want to take home from Bandera," she said, "but we also offer unique items for our local customers - first quality merchandise they'll be proud to have in their homes and give as gifts."
Touring the newly installed gift section, Stratton pointed out L Boulevard candles, which are made in the United States. "They've been making candles in Kansas for 80 years," she noted. "We started out with one big shelf unit and already have expanded to two. Everyone just loves them." Along with the wonderfully scented soy candles, Stratton also offers wax melts, warmers and plug-in outlets.
Additionally, although the gourmet food section is already well stocked with items pleasing to a western palate, including barbecue sauce, rubs, hot sauces, and myriad other food, amantes del café will soon have a surprise in store.
"Johnny plans to install a vintage coffee grinder that was used in his family's old grocery store," Stratton said. "We'll stock whole coffee beans and customers can grind their own coffee." However, coffee-challenged consumers will also be able to purchase K-Cups for their early morning brew.
Another bestseller in the gift department is an extensive collection of houseplants, beautifully maintained by "green thumb extraordinaire" Paula Sexton. "There seemed to be nowhere in Bandera to buy indoor plants for gifts," Statton said. "Since we've added houseplants to our line, they've done unbelievably well. Paula does an outstanding job with her selections."
Future offerings will include purses, jewelry and other "girly things" selected to entice women to the hardware store. "Men come in and buy a bolt, but women really know how to shop and that's what we want," Stratton explained.
One line Stratton is also stocking is jewelry by Silver Forest. Handcrafted in Vermont, the attractive earrings feature surgical steel earwires and semi-precious stones and Austrian crystals, along with glass beads and other natural materials. Metals used include raw brass or copper elements. "We just got them in. These earrings make perfect Mothers Day gifts," said Stratton.
Although clearly happy with her added responsibility, Stratton admitted, "Building this gift section from scratch was a challenge for me, but Cheryl was a great merchandiser to work with."
Stratton added, "My passion is people. We give our customers what they want, along with excellent service. That's our secret and it's a real simple one." With that simple philosophy - great products and great service - Stratton aims to take care of her customers again and again. And that's the best retail philosophy around.
For Bandera's gift and hardware needs, Boyle's Bandera True Value is open from 8 am to 7 pm, Monday to Saturday; and 9 am to 4 pm, Sunday. Telephone is 830-796-3861.
Don't forget, Mothers Day is just around the corner.