Keeping it simple

Saratoga South Boutique’s Joan Rello and Kathy Zelker wrapping a gift for a customer.

Saratoga South Boutique’s Joan Rello and Kathy Zelker wrapping a gift for a customer. Photo by Julie Cushine-Rigg.

— If there is any good to come out of the ongoing fiscal crisis, it may just be that early retirement options are giving thousands of people a new beginning.

That was the case for Joan Rello of Malta. She opened the Saratoga South Boutique at the Shops at Malta (at the intersection of Route 9and 67) in May after having done sales and marketing work in “corporate America” for more than three decades. When the opportunity came to take an early retirement, she jumped at a new opportunity.

“It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do for years,” she said.

The shop offers gifts for every occasion and carries many items crafted by local artisans. From scarves and hats to cookware and jewelry – it’s all there and every piece is unique.

Her hope is that gift buying is no longer “a chore” for shoppers, like it was for her during business trips and harried schedules.

“One thing I learned very, very quickly is that to buy a gift is a chore … shopping should be fun,” she said.

The boutique has been open since early May, but Rello decided to have a grand opening on Friday, June 22, and Saturday, June 23. Business so far has been “steady and good,” she said.

Friday afternoon especially brought in many passersby who were curious as well as some repeat customers.

Chuck Brooks lives in Malta and has been a customer of Rello’s from the beginning. The variety in the shop gives him “reason to stop in every week,” he said, and he appreciates Rello’s help in finding gifts.

“I usually come in and say, ‘What’s new this week?’ It’s been great,” said Brooks.

He then pointed out a whimsical frog in the window he bought the week before. Another customer was intrigued and actually found it to be the perfect gift for somebody she was shopping for. Brooks was “glad to be of service.”

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