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Monday, Dec. 7, 2015

Enchanting the city

Local shop celebrates 35 years in business 

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Local shop celebrates 35 years in business

Walking into The Enchanted Garden is an experience for customers. After 35 years in business and as a staple in Shreveport, the shop is widely known for offering one-of-a-kind, unique gifts.

Owner Deb Beckman Cockrell started the business in 1980 in the same location on Line Avenue and said she is happy to own a small business in Shreveport for so long. She said she sees it as a way to give back to the community.

“This is what I always wanted for a shop. I just wanted a place where people could come and see things that they’ve never seen before, that just makes shopping easy,” Cockrell said.

The Enchanted Garden began in a real estate office 35 years ago. Cockrell started small and took over the front room of the building. A year later, she took over more rooms finally expanding into the building next to her and added a hallway for customers to move from one building to the other.

“We built a blessing hallway to connect the two buildings,” she said. “So each day everyone goes through the blessing hallway. It’s just a way to be blessed.”

Cockrell will be the first to admit her shop is just “a fun place to be.” She said she enjoys giving customers the experience they need each day.

“I love for people to come in and get what they need. It’s not just the gift – that is the thing that brings them in. In one day, I had three different people tell me they got just what they needed [at the shop,]” Cockrell said. “One came in and said, ‘I just needed to laugh,’ and we laughed the whole time. And later that day, another lady came in and said, ‘I got just what I needed today; I just needed to talk and feel loved,’ and I thought that was great.”

No matter the customer, Cockrell finds a way to bond with everyone who comes into her shop and sees them more as friends.

“[The Enchanted Garden is] a neighboring shop where people can meet each other,” she said.

As far as clientele, being in business for 35 years, Cockrell has created a name for herself that spans farther than Shreveport-Bossier City – or even Louisiana. Cockrell has had clients call in from Paris and journey to the Line Avenue location from many other states to shop for personal items or for gifts.

Beyond her clients, she said she credits the success of the shop to surrounding herself with people who love and support her dream.

“I love what I am doing. I always have a great support staff and a wonderful husband,” she said.

Cockrell often enlists the help of her brother Dennis Beckman. Beckman owns The Enchanted Crystal in San Francisco.

When she first opened The Enchanted Garden, she wanted customers to see the connection to her brother’s shop, even though his business was in another city.

After being in business years later, a large amount of customers have found the connection to both of the shops. This year,

Beckman assisted with decorating the shop for the holidays.

Cockrell decorates depending on the season, and she said, many customers delight in the festive décor and can always count on one of the largest Christmas village displays in Shreveport-Bossier City.

Around this time of year, Cockrell stocks a holiday collector’s dream.

“I carry a lot of favorites throughout the years,” Cockrell said. “Department 56 Villages [are items that] people have collected for almost 35 years and people hand those down through generations – like Mark Roberts and a lot of the collectible items that people buy each year and add to their collection.”

Cockrell said other products that have been big sellers this year have been the GingerSnaps jewelry. She said many customers like the price and also the different kinds of colors they can match to their outfit.

“I look for new and different [at market],” she said.

“At some of these markets, I look for people that don’t make it to others and that this might be their only market. For some, it might just be another little small business.”

Cockrell said she likes supporting small businesses and encourages the community to shop small.

“We were talking about how important small businesses are to the community like Shreveport-Bossier,” she said. “I keep a list of stores, because if I don’t have [a product in the store], I like to call another shop because I’m here for my customers.

“I’ve marked out 75 percent [of those numbers] through the years. If we lose all of the small shops, we aren’t going to have a place to shop and find those unusual gifts.

When people support small businesses they’re putting money into their own community. It helps places like mine continue to be here,” she said.

“I’ve always joked that I will be 100-yearsold and saying, ‘Come on in.’” To celebrate the anniversary, Cockrell said the shop will have tastings of products and raffle door prizes.

“‘Where shopping is fun’ – that’s our byline,” she said. “Even the men that hate to go shopping say, ‘You made it nice and fun.’ You may as well, life is short, enjoy each day.”

–Lydia Earhart

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