For Richelle Haas, owner and “possibilitarian” of Sparkle Gifts and Whatnots in downtown Renton, it’s not about the money.
“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and I like things that bring people joy,” Haas said. “I want this place to be a respite.”
And Sparkle Gifts, located at 824 3rd Street, is just that.
Filled with specialty items and gifts, along with a “mini-fridge always stocked with sparkling water,” Sparkle is so popular that it won “Best Gift Store” and “Best Customer Service” from the Renton Reporter’s Best of Renton 2022 awards. The downtown boutique was also a favorite stop during Renton’s Small Business Saturday event over Thanksgiving weekend, where shoppers flocked to Sparkle’s unique gifts.
“When people come in, they see things that draw them to somebody and people spend a lot of time to pick out the right gift and we wrap everything up which is complimentary,” Haas said.
Sparkle Gifts opened five years ago, though its origins go back even further. When Haas’ oldest son Nathan, 21, was in kindergarten at Tiffany Parks Elementary School, Haas decided to open up a student holiday shop to help with fundraising.
“Instead of cookie dough, I wanted to do something interesting with the kids, I wanted something to do that’s fun and provide things that bring kids joy, like popcorn-scented erasers,” Haas said. “It wasn’t necessarily about Christmas, but it was to help teach kids to pick stuff out as presents and we’d wrap them up.”
As her sons Nathan and Nick, 19, grew older and went on to middle school, Haas’ student shops followed them.
“We ended up doing a student store to give back to the students,” she said of the student store at Nelsen Middle School. “The school had no money and we managed to raise $23,000 by the end of the year.”
After growing up in Port Orchard, Haas moved to Seattle where she worked as flight attendant. Haas and her family then moved to Renton, where she became a stay-at-home mom for years, though she says that the student stores and her habit of creating intricate displays at her own garage sales gave her the gumption to open her boutique.
“I ran out of schools,” said Haas with a laugh as she explained her transition from student store to brick-and-mortar boutique. ” I wanted to put my experience to good use and I opened Sparkle on a whim.”