OWENSBORO, Ky. (5/24/13) – Downtown Owensboro’s newest business is slated to open its doors to the public for the first time tomorrow morning and for the family running it, it’s the opportunity they’ve spent years preparing for.
Just a couple of days before the opening of the West Second Street store “Bella Ragazza” (which means “beautiful woman” in Italian), Jimmy Gaw, his wife, Marti, and daughter, Natasha Gaw, were busy sorting, pressing, and hanging clothes, cleaning and moving furniture, and putting on the finishing touches to the facility. Tuesday night, Jimmy Gaw spent several minutes just cleaning the large chandelier hanging above the center of the store. Women’s clothes were hung on racks along each of the walls or lay folded on tables nearby, and were surrounded by various pieces of furniture for sale.
Setting up and stocking the store, especially in the short amount of time the family had to get ready, required quite a bit of hustling, Gaw and his daughter told SurfKY on Tuesday.
“In 60 days, we’ve gone from zero, from absolutely nothing, to this,” Jimmy Gaw said as he motioned around the store. “We traveled to three markets in four weeks. We surprised ourselves that we did it this fast.”
Fashion vendors’ shows they visited took them as far as Atlanta, Georgia, and during their stops they had to decide whether to open this summer, or wait until the fall. Opening earlier, Gaw said, would require them to carry summer clothes at a time when other existing clothing stores would be preparing to put those items on clearance. Ultimately, they decided opening sooner was the better choice, even if that meant buying summer clothes, because this is the time of year when downtown Owensboro has the most activity.
“I wanted to be a part of downtown, and I looked at a lot of different ideas,” Gaw said, noting that his first idea was a wine and cheese shop. “I thought this would be a good location and when I saw it, there was no decision to be made.”
He said being surrounded by restaurants is one of the store’s strong suits.
“Any time you walk to eat, you’ve got to walk by this location,” he said.
This isn’t Gaw’s first experience as a business owner. He has previously owned and operated an ornamental iron business, which he eventually sold. He said his decision to start a new business was prompted partly by a desire to encourage his children to move back to the community.
“I may be the owner, but she’s definitely the boss,” Gaw said of Natasha.
Natasha Gaw, who moved away from Owensboro years ago, said the opportunity to come back here to run a business with her family wasn’t something she had thought about before her dad asked her to be involved with it. She said her history of retail work in Nashville, Tenn., and parts of Florida prepared her for this opportunity.
“I am amazed at the amount of support,” she said. “People I haven’t seen for years (have been asking when we are going to open). This is not something I could have done in Nashville or anywhere else. To be able to do my dream with my family is unbelievable.”
Natasha Gaw said she chose the name “Bella Ragazza” with the help of an online language translator. After entering a few key phrases, she settled on the Italian translation of the phrase “beautiful woman” as the store’s name. She said it connects with her vision for the store.
“I want everyone to leave with the best experience,” she said. “I try to make people feel good in the best way that I can, to make everyone feel special.”
Part of that goal will mean getting customer feedback on future items to add, she said.
“We don’t want anybody to be turned away,” she said. “It will be nice to hear from the customers, what they wish we had.”
The store will be open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Photos provided by Dennis Beard
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