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Owner of Queen’s Gifts, longtime fixture of downtown Salisbury, is moving on to her next venture

By Susan Shinn Turner

For the Salisbury Post

SALISBURY — When Jane Crosby hung the “going out of business sale” signs at Queen’s Gifts over the weekend, she was totally unprepared for the outpouring of love and support.

“The comments on Facebook have been so heart-warming,” Crosby said Monday afternoon, “and I didn’t expect the business. We put the signs up Saturday morning, and it was a zoo. People have been coming in and being so sweet and kind. My fellow merchants have been so kind.”

Crosby purchased Queen’s Gifts 22 years ago. Opened in 1969 by Wilma Harper and Frances Yates, the business was at 105-A N. Main St. Crosby moved to 125 S. Main St., then 221 S. Main St. Each time, she doubled her square footage and grew her business, ending up with 11,000 square feet.

Now it’s once again time for a change, Crosby said.

“I’m just kind of ready for the next chapter of my life. I hope it is as exciting and wonderful as this chapter.”

Valedictorian of the 1984 graduating class of South Rowan High School, she received a degree from Duke University in public policy in 1988. She earned her MBA from Wake Forest University, with concentrations in marketing and operations.

She eventually worked for a consulting firm in downtown Charlotte but dreamed of opening a gift shop. Crosby’s mother, Jettie Wise, had been a longtime Queen’s customer.

“She told the owners, ‘If you ladies ever want to sell, call us. My daughter would be interested,’” Crosby said. “Lo and behold, they gave us a call, and the rest is history.”

Crosby said she loved owning Queen’s.

“It allowed me to combine my creative side and my business side in a way I never thought was possible,” she said.

Crosby was perhaps at her most creative when putting together elaborate Christmas tree displays at Queen’s. She started each June and always had the trees ready for OctoberTour.

At one time, she decorated more than 50 trees on the store’s second floor.

Longtime customers will remember that Crosby was a diamond-level Vera Bradley dealer — she ended that line two years ago — as well as a longtime dealer of Pandora jewelry and Rainbow sandals.

“When I bought the business, it was collectibles,” Crosby said. “We had Tom Clark gnomes and Hummel and Dept. 56. People were collecting. But we had a major shift between the first and second location. You had to shift and change, so we offered more jewelry and accessories along with gifts.”

The last year she did a Christmas tree display was 2011. Her mother-in-law, Bessie Crosby, died that December. Then her father, Bill Wise, died in October 2013, and she lost her brother and only sibling, Tony Wise, just 13 months later.

“So that definitely has had an impact on me as a person and made me realize what priorities are important in life,” she said. “I didn’t feel quite as creative after all that loss.”

Crosby is her mom’s primary source of family support, although she praises her sister-in-law and her brother’s four daughters for their involvement.

“They are all wonderful.”

Crosby and her husband, Mike, have been married 21 years. Mike Crosby has always popped popcorn in front of the store during Friday Night Out. During recent family surgeries, Crosby said, their son, Jacob, 20, has run the shop.

“He grew up in the store. He’s perfectly capable of running things.”

As for Crosby’s plans, “I’m gonna get a job! Let’s hope my MBA and I are still marketable. It’s definitely different entering the job market in your 50s.”

Besides selling merchandise, Crosby, 51, is also selling fixtures. Machelle Frick, owner of Lora Belle Baby at 115 N. Main St., is in the process of buying Crosby’s building. Frick, who plans renovations, said she wants to be open in time for OctoberTour.

“We will expand to include baby furniture, strollers and car seats,” Frick said Monday afternoon, “with space for showers and classes. We’ll be able to offer a whole lot more.”

Pam Hylton Coffield, the longtime owner of the Stitchin’ Post, wrote a letter to the editor in Monday’s Post  praising Queen’s. “I want to thank Jane Crosby for her contributions to the success of downtown Salisbury,” Coffield said. “Her popular store has brought in so many visitors to our town from far and wide. All downtown merchants have benefited from the success of Queen’s Gifts.”

Crosby said she hopes downtown Salisbury will continue to prosper.

“The Empire Hotel project is a critical piece of downtown revitalization,” she said. “I hope it comes to fruition and that people will get behind it and support it. The downtown is an integral piece of this community.”

And Queen’s was an integral piece of downtown.

“I’ve prayed a lot about this decision and asked that God make the path clear for me, and I feel like he has,” Crosby said. “I always viewed Queen’s as my ministry. People would come in sometimes not to shop, but because they were lonely or needed a hug or just needed to talk. I always told my staff, ‘That’s OK. They’ll be back. If you treat them how you want to be treated, they will be back.’”

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