Intuitively creative is an apt description for Shannon Wiegel, owner of Charisma, a local gift store that is a “go to” for gifts and beach-themed home decor. For example, I recently needed a gift for someone who liked unicorns and wandered into Charisma really not thinking I’d find anything, but wanting to shop local. Shannon always offers friendly, personalized service and immediately showed me the unicorn themed chip clips, which I purchased and then added a gift card to complete the present.
A beautician and esthetician by trade, Shannon always liked shopping at Charisma and bought the shop in October 2017, making it her own ever since. She kept all the best things about the original Charisma, and shifted to purchasing goods from small businesses and local artists featuring unique products. She has seen a positive response to the added merchandise. Her customizable Nora Fleming ceramic and melamine products are big hits, especially since Charisma is one of only two stores in California that sell the full line of these products. People drive in from far and wide specifically to purchase these products, which come from a small company.
Shannon’s daughter, Tori Geddes, has the business acumen and makes a good partner to her creative mom. The family is originally from Arizona, but always loved vacationing in Coronado. Shannon and her husband moved here seven years ago, and Tori followed three years ago. A family highlight during the pandemic was the birth of baby Xander in October.
Typically, revenue from residents has been very small, about five percent, but Shannon found that people were more diligent about shopping local in 2020, especially for holiday shopping in November and December. During the time when she closed her shop in March and didn’t reopen until May, she learned how to create a website from scratch. “I realized that the bills weren’t going to stop coming in, so I had to expand my horizons,” she comments. Purchases made online, by email or on the phone can be delivered, picked up curbside, or shipped to customers or gift recipients.
Recently it’s been “a dead zone on weekends,” with the lack of tourists, but Shannon hopes it will pick up as restrictions are lifted. The store hours are currently 10 am to 5 pm daily. While daughter Tori is on maternity leave, Shannon and employee Sallie Johnson run this local, family-owned shop and make every effort to help customers select the perfect gift, whether it be for a baby, a birthday, or a ‘just because I’m thinking of you’ present.
Shannon has had to reorganizer her ordering and downsize inventory, concentrating on the top best sellers, which include their exclusive Coronado-themed candles, adorable baby and kids’ clothing, state-themed tea towels by Catstudio, and unique creations by local artists. It has been even more important to her, during this time, to buy goods from local artists, who don’t have big corporations behind them for support. For example, she created her exclusive line of popular Coronado candles, like Ocean Blvd. and The Islander, in conjunction with a family-owned business in North Carolina. As a small business owner, she is acutely aware of the importance of helping other small businesses.
And while she was able to get local and federal money to help tide her over, it still hasn’t been easy paying the bills, with her revenues down 50 to 75 percent over the previous year. Her rent has remained the same, and she found vendors were willing to work with her.
“I have become a better businesswoman because of 2020,” she emphasizes. “I found my true grit and learned more about my business, customers, inventory, the best ways to buy, and what’s important in businesses and in life.” While everything was shut down during the pandemic, she was able to connect with other local businesses and share information.
It’s hard to put Charisma in a category, because its merchandise covers the gamut from nautical themed items, skin care, purses, cards, edible candles, bride and groom gifts, books, creative artwork, including heart and stamp motifs, baby and children’s clothes, toys, gifts, Coronado and San Diego themed items, and so much more. You have to discover its charismatic charms for yourself.