Tin Lizzie’s is an eclectic gift shop located in Oklahoma City’s revitalized Historical Automobile Alley. The area is known for its retro/vintage architecture, the latest in food and entertaining trends, and truly unique shopping experiences for art, fashion, home décor, gifts, etc.
Prior to opening Tin Lizzie’s, partners Julie Miller and Elizabeth Ball leased a tiny booth at a vendor mall in downtown Oklahoma City where they sold various curiosities and gifts,
including DEMDACO products. As their business (and booth sizes) continued to grow, they decided to go out on their own. Tin Lizzie’s now offers a carefully curated mix of home goods and gifts, new and vintage craft selections—for gift-giving, home decorating, and self-care.
“It’s such a great area for a store like this,” said Janet Thompson, OneCoast Territory Manager in the DEMDACO Sales Division that covers Oklahoma City. “I am so excited to have DEMDACO products here. It seems like a good fit. They do well with a number of collections and items such as She Inspires, Giving Bears, Activity Scarves, Kelly Rae Roberts Baby (True). They’re introducing Lenae Mae Stockings, Kitchen Boas, and others for the holidays.”
Upon entering the Automobile Alley store, shoppers experience the character of a space that’s nearly a century old, filled with a welcoming vibe of natural light from the floor-to-ceiling front windows, and soft fragrances from the many candles, lotions and soaps on display. Exposed bricks and industrial accents painted in modern vibrant hues line the space, framing a vast selection of novelties, housewares, fashion accessories and contemporary gifting concepts. The eye can’t take it all in at first; there’s so much to see and explore, but it doesn’t feel cluttered or crowded. The arrangement of everything feels intentional, yet organic—like the DIY style of the welcoming sandwich board out front.
Here are some insights from owner Julie Miller about running Tin Lizzie’s:
What’s the best part of owning a gift shop?
Getting to help others. I love helping customers find a great gift, especially when they don’t know what they want. It’s such a joy to see their eyes light up when they find something they want to give someone, and I can envision the look they receive back from the gift’s recipient. And just as important, I love being able to help those that create—artists, craftsmen, inventors—bring their products to a larger audience.
What’s the key to running a gift shop?
Paying attention to your customers, and hard work.
What are the most popular reasons your customers buy gifts?
I think most of my customers are prompted to buy gifts for occasions such as birthdays, retirements, Christmas. But the reason they buy the gift is that they appreciate the individual for being in their life and they want to express it.
Is there an underlying theme or message you try to convey through the products you sell?
Be timeless. Invest in and give quality pieces that reflect individual personality. Then over time, a home becomes a beautiful collection of memories.
How do you find out about new trends and products, and do you ever take big risks on new items?
We LOVE taking big risks on new items. If we see something that moves us—makes us laugh, smile, feel good—we feel like our customers will also be moved in the same way. We want to be the place that our customers can find something they haven’t seen before. The only way to do that is to take risks.
Are you doing anything special to increase holiday foot traffic to your store?
We started earlier this year by offering a week-long customer appreciation and Holiday preview week with lots of social media advertising and targeting specific local businesses to partner with in that. We hope that getting individuals in the store early, even if they aren’t Christmas shopping yet, will get them thinking about Tin Lizzie’s being the place they want to go when they are ready to buy.
Do you have any advice for how other gift retailers can increase foot traffic?
Other than be yourself, not really. I think each retailer has to know themselves and their clientele and get ideas from that.
What are some popular trends in the gift industry these days? Anything surprising?
I can always get surprised by customer trends. Right now, the unicorn and the llama are such hot products and llamas are animals that spit on people. I think it’s funny and surprising that people like that.
How long have you sold DEMDACO products?
4-5 years in total.
What are your top-selling DEMDACO products?
The She Inspires plaques and cards.
Why do you think DEMDACO products fit in the mix of gifts sold at your store?
It’s about variety and DEMDACO provides gifts with heart. We love the quality of DEMDACO products and that each gift has a purpose.