Store manager

Notable Neighbor Lana Ruffini: Store Manager Talks Unique Products and National Park Tours | Local News

Lana Ruffini began her full-time retail career working at the Julia Rush fine art store in downtown Hickory.

After Rush closed the store in 2010, the now 46-year-old Hickory resident went to school to study photography and returned to retail, working first at the Health Hut in Viewmont before to become Executive Director of Unique World Gifts.

Established in 1992, the gift shop is a non-profit organization that works with designers in developing countries to sell their products according to fair trade standards that include stipulations related to fair compensation and quality of working conditions. work.

Outside of his job managing the boutique, Ruffini’s passions include traveling to national parks. She has lost count of how many people she has visited, but says there were probably a few dozen.

Ruffini talked about how she came to run the gift shop, some of the unusual items she sold during her nine years running the store, and her favorite national park experiences.

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This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How she became Executive Director at Unique World Gifts:

After I finished school I needed a job and worked on the streets (on North Center Street) at the Health Hut.

One of our former Julia Rush clients was on the board at the time here, and their executive director was leaving to pursue something else and they were looking for someone else.

They really wanted someone with retail, especially small business, to come and she knew I was just working at the Health Hut so she approached me.

On some of the most interesting products she has sold:

Once we had a necklace made of coffee beans; it was quite creative. It’s been a while, I haven’t seen one since.

I have to say that probably one of the ones I get the most comments on are the woolen birdhouses which are hand felted from wool made in Nepal.

A lot of people think it’s just a decorative item, but they’re fully functional, so I often explain that to people. Birds build nests there. I have people coming back to replace them because they were used as homes.

On her favorite national parks and memorable national park experiences:

That’s asking a mom for her favorite child and so I can’t really answer but that being said, it’s hard not to love Yellowstone and Zion.

I will say that one of the things I was glad I did and glad I did was hike to Angels Landing in Zion National Park.

It’s very steep and where you have to hang on to the chains and it’s pretty scary and so I was glad and lucky I was able to do it but also glad I did. I would do it again.

(My boyfriend) coached me. Halfway through, I said I didn’t know if I could do it and he walked me through.

I don’t mind being high up, but I’m afraid of falling and you cling to chains and watch a 1,000 foot drop beside you.

We really like to have the experience. Once you get to the top it is of course worth it.

On what she loves about her job:

What I love about all this type of work is that it supports people in a positive way.

It was great because a lot of these people, they can’t always picture themselves. So they depend on an American market to help them sell what they’re doing so it can be supported again.

Kevin Griffin is the Hickory City Reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.