Deborah Landis, manager of the Shoppe Around the Corner, is surrounded by things fragrant and beautiful.
The shop is filled with candles, clocks, signed pottery and glass pieces, tea sets and trays. A vast array of scarves and jewelry crowd shelves and countertops in appealing displays.
But this is a store with a purpose beyond providing gifts for friends and family. The business aims to raise money for hot meals for needy seniors in the Meals on Wheels program.
The meals program is but one of a number of programs run by the nonprofit Neighborly Care Network. Its other programs include adult day care, home health care and nutritional services.
"We were the first federally funded Meals on Wheels program in the nation," said group spokeswoman Sandy Narron. The local program began in 1968.
The Shoppe Around the Corner, which opened in 2005, also carries a distinction.
"When you think about a nonprofit, you usually think of a thrift store," Landis said, "but this is all new merchandise that appears to belong in an upscale boutique."
The store, just off County Road 1 on Omaha Circle and newly decorated for the Christmas season, is holding an open house from noon to 7 p.m Monday. Shoppers will be treated to light refreshments and a 25 percent discount on purchases.
Landis, who admittedly loves to shop, is ever on the alert for items that her clients favor. She shops at a major gift mart held in Atlanta once a year, visits websites and peruses the goods of traveling salespeople.
Lately, though, profits have been hard to come by, in spite of the many items the shop has to offer. The shop has two paid employees and a handful of volunteers. Neighborly Care owns the building, but taxes, electricity and water bills must be paid, along with the initial cost of the merchandise.
"For the past three years, the contributions have about equaled expenditures," Landis said, but added that one benefit is that customers often learn about Meals on Wheels while visiting the store and may make their own private donations.
Meals on Wheels is facing stiff challenges.
"We serve between 1,000 and 1,200 hot meals every Monday through Friday," said Narron, adding that they serve the neediest people first. "We have a waiting list right now of 548 people."
Landis, who has worked in retail since age 16 in her native New York, has come up with ways to earn money for the program in addition to walk-in shoppers and regular clientele.
She stages events throughout the year, such as a Christmas extravaganza or a wine and cheese party, offering discounts to those attending. She also holds smaller monthly events, such as trunk shows where outside vendors provide a portion of their proceeds to Meals on Wheels.
Other functions have been profitable as well. The shop is available to private groups to hold their own events, and they do so two or three times a year.
Lately, the store has been busy getting ready for its holiday extravaganza Monday. "The whole shop will be transformed into a fantasy Christmas wonderland," Landis said.