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Outstanding service, Unusual gifts

Sun Advocate publisher

Stacy Himonas stands in front of one of the cases in her store where she keeps some of her glasswares, including the Glass Eye line which produces glass balls that depict the planets of the solar system. Over the years she has moved to unique gifts to fill her customer's needs.

Shops in small towns must be inventive to stay in business. Many struggle not only against the box stores that permeate American life, but also the internet.

Towns like Price have essentially two kinds of small stores - those that are making it with unique offerings and those that have a strong clientele.

Annastasia's, on 100 West and 60 North is one that has both. Sandwiched between the Utah State Liquor Store and a floral shop, the little business has been operating where it is, in one form or another, for 17 years.

The owner, Stacy Himonas, keeps plugging away despite setbacks and tragedy.

"My shop began over on Main Street as the Creative Needle in 1976," she said as she gazed out the front window of her store. "We sold supplies for needlepoint, crocheting, knitting and other kinds of needle work. We also taught classes for people to learn the various kinds of needle crafts."

Himonas said that the classes she taught were full and often she had to teach courses at night that also attracted dozens of people. Then came Wal-Mart.

"We had just bought this building and moved to this location a couple of years before they moved into town," she said. "When they opened, people still came and wanted to learn the crafts, but they wanted to buy the stuff there and then come to us to learn how to do it."

The classes had been an outcropping of the supply sales, so when one went the other had to give. Not long before WalMart came to town, Himonas and her husband, Mike, had decided to start selling other things in the shop. Soon those gift items became the mainstay of the store. Annastasia's was born.

Stacy was born in Salt Lake City, but was moved to Price by her parents when she was 2 years old. She and her husband, Mike, operated dual businesses within the building they purchased. Mike had an Allstate Insurance Agency and used the north half of the storefront. Stacy ran her business on the south side of the building.

In 2002, Mike passed away so she sold the insurance business and continued to operate her gift store and rent the space that was Mike's old office.

"We have done alot of work to this building, but alot of it has never been finished," she said with a tear in her eye. "Mike left too soon. We didn't get it all finished."

But regardless of some old walls and unfinished ceiling panels, the store still has that small gift shop appeal, largely because of Stacy herself, who lends an energy and happiness to the place, despite the slow down in business over the years and the loss of her husband.

She also carries a lot of items that are hard to find anywhere else in Carbon County. Some of her favorites include Wilton Aremetale, a metal line of goblets, serving pieces, salad bowls and other items that can be frosted to keep food fresh and cold.

Stacy Himonas stands in front of one of the cases in her store where she keeps some of her glasswares, including the Glass Eye line which produces glass balls that depict the planets of the solar system. Over the years she has moved to unique gifts to fill her customer's needs.

Another set of gifts comes from the Glass Eye line, a company that makes hand blown items such as perfume bottles and, of all things, glass planets; the company actually makes glass balls that are blown to look like the planets of the solar system.

She also proudly displays and sells local artists' work from such well-known people as Jim Young, Iris Howe and Cliff and Janet Bergera.

She recently added a line of handmade scarves made by a Salt Lake artist and carries fold art by Syd Colessides.

Himonas also carries Fiestaware, a line of plates, saucers, bowls and cups that usually only large department stores stock.

The gifts make the shop, but don't take anything away from the furnishings in the store either. They are mostly antiques.

"We display our goods on antique furniture that came out of my father's tavern that used to be where the Savoy Club is located now," she explained. "It was called the Bank Club 66."

The building also lends itself to the shop as well. It was originally built in 1904 and known as the Kosmas Building. It served many purposes before the couple bought it. They renamed it the Stavros Building after her father.

"When we started to remodel we discovered there were some high windows in the front that had been covered up with a drop down ceiling and siding on the outside," she stated. "We uncovered those, took down the ceiling and replaced it with metal ceiling tiles, and cleaned out the upstairs."

For years the upstairs had been used as living space for various kinds of people including those that didn't stay very long. It was full of junk.

"You wouldn't believe what we took out of there," she smiled.

The gift shop as it stands today is a monument to the tenacity of small shop owners in little towns. Things change all the time, and many of them aren't good signs for small stores.

"Today a lot of the competition that comes to stores like mine and Oliveto's is from the internet," she said. "That kind of purchasing is taking a lot of business."

She says at one time she had a dozen sales representatives calling on her with goods. Some were just walk-ins that she had never seen before. That isn't true anymore.

"I only have one come in regularly now," she said.

But many people still like to feel, touch and look from all angles at something they want to buy as gift for a loved one or friend. And for guys, this is the kind of store that makes buying something for wives and girlfriends easy. Stacy is there to help sort out the needs and wants.

And best of all she wraps it up too, with a kind of touch one seldom sees anymore.

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