10 Questions with...Alexis Burnett

10 Questions with...Alexis Burnett
Alexis Burnett owns The Gift Bar in downtown Mexico. [Dave Faries]
Dave Faries

Alexis Burnett has been a part of Audrain County her entire life. She was born and raised in Mexico. She graduated from Mexico High School, she worked cleaning houses in the community and she donates to local charities.
Two years ago Burnett opened The Gift Bar in downtown Mexico. The shop sells gift items – as you might expect – but its not the usual gift store. Inside you can find clothing, jewelry, decorative items, purses, locally made natural lotions and more.
1. Why open a small business?
I knew I was ready for something different. It sounds strange, but I had a dream that my husband and I were making gift baskets in a store. I woke up and it still seemed like a good idea.
2. How has it been during the pandemic?
Good and bad. There’s the fear part, initially. We sat down and tried to figure out worst case scenarios. Fortunately, it didn’t come to that. I have seen people I wouldn’t normally see. It became important for people to support small businesses. And it encouraged me to get creative, to think outside the box.
3. Many small towns have lost all their shops over the years. Downtown Mexico is holding up.
People who haven’t been downtown for a couple of years say ‘I didn’t know all this was here.’
4. You partnered with Stacey’s Place to help feed homebound residents. What started that?
That was one of my moments of panic. We have elderly grandparents. We live next to senior housing and you see that people aren’t visiting. You get to wonder, so if there’s a way to help another business and the elderly – Stacey [Conklin] took it and ran with it.
5. A lot of people have been donating.
It’s fun when you see people pull together for the common good.
6. Is there something you don’t stock that you’d like to add to your shelves?
My goal is to work on more men’s and boy’s gifts. It’s harder. I have three boys, so I don’t know why it’s so hard, but it is.
7. How hard is it not to shop your own store?
Oh, gosh – That is probably one of the hardest parts. There are all kinds of things I want to take home. I sneak a piece or two home on occasion.
8. What’s the most satisfying part of owning a small business?
It’s seeing people pick out something from the shelves to give as a gift for someone else. It’s seeing people come in when they’ve had a bad day to find something to cheer themselves up. It’s nice to be able to see people, and to give back to the community.
9. On the other side of things, what’s the hardest part?
It’s not an 8 to 5. I know what it says on the door, but there are nights when I meet people up here. I’m not complaining.  I’m a procrastinator, so I understand when they call needing a last minute gift. ‘OK, I’ll come up there.’
10. You have an eclectic shop.
It’s not just one style. The vendors are amazing, the things they come up with. And it’s really taken off. At first it was the typical gifts you’d see in a gift shop. Now it’s anything.



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