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Unique Memories & Gifts moves, expands offerings
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Unique Memories & Gifts moves, expands offerings

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The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have been far-reaching. It has forced many businesses to scale back or close altogether. That hasn’t been the case with one local small business.

Unique Memories & Gifts, which opened this past February, expanded its brick and mortar footprint in Rocky Mount last month when it moved into a new facility. While the business only moved a short ways, from 45 Marketplace Drive to 350 Old Franklin Turnpike, the new location is larger and has allowed owner Jeremy Parker to expand his offerings.

“It has been a rough and rocky road for us, but we’re getting so busy now that we needed to expand,” he said.

The new location has allowed him to set up a paint zone where customers put on protective white suits to splatter paint on canvases. “They get to create art, but they also get to sling the paint on each other,” Parker jokes. “It relieves stress.”

A kiln to fire pottery was also added as part of the expansion. At the original location, he was only able to offer pottery that was painted with acrylic. “People want to have their kids put their handprints on plates and things like that,” he said.

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Additionally, Parker is taking over Full Armor Custom Apparel’s trophy and plaque business starting Dec. 1. He explained that he will have a trophy room set up inside the Unique Memories & Gifts location.

Parker said he is continuing to offer custom wood signs, sand art and items to purchase in the gift shop.

The idea for the business came to Parker in 2014 when he was still working in healthcare. With six children, he wanted something to do on the side that could generate some money so he started making decals. As time went on, he started adding new components to the modest business. Painted wood with rustic elements proved to be a favorite among customers.

It was last June when Parker finally decided to invest all of his savings into his life-long dream of owning his own business. “It has always been my dream to own my own business, so I had all my savings and I just went for it,” he said. “I wanted to create a one-stop shop where you can get a unique gift or something personalized. When you go to a big chain store, it’s all the same. When you come here, you can actually get something different. A lot of things we do are one of a kind.”

Originally, he offered take-home paint kits as a way to engage customers since pandemic restrictions prevented large scale in-person activities. “We had to think outside the box,” he said.

As for what the future has in store for Unique Memories & Gifts, Parker believes it will continue to evolve and expand. “We’re always coming up with new things to do,” he said. “My main goal is to be able to rebound from the pandemic, but to also grow bigger. This time next year I hope to be in a place where we’re making money again and providing more to the community.”

Something new that is coming down the pike in the very near future will be “Homeschooler Tuesdays.” The idea of opening up the business for area homeschoolers to come in for special projects and lessons came to Parker as a result of the fact that his own children are homeschooled. All six Parker children help run the business when they aren’t working on their own school work.

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