I established Gifted in 2006 out of my need to heal and restore my life, through work and creativity, after the death of my husband, Joseph Gullickson, on Sept. 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center, and the tragic loss of my father Jose A. Perez, in the crash of American Airlines flight #587 in Rockaway, Queens on Monday, Nov. 12, 2001, just two days after my husband's funeral service, Saturday, November 10, 2001.
My late husband Joe was a Lieutenant in the NYC Fire Dept. He was my best friend, and a loving father to our two little girls. He was a family man through and through. My father was a hardworking family man that always held two jobs. He was kind and generous, with a warm, ready smile. My father was also an avid reader that encouraged the same of me.
When I decided to start the work of opening up the gift shop I was fulfilling a life long dream; it was something that I always wanted to do. The endeavor helped me enormously, in that it was a release for the tangled fears, stresses and anxieties of becoming a widowed mother of two little girls. They were only ages one and three when their father died. I delved into the creation of the gift shop full heartedly and worked endless hours to create a pretty little store reminiscent of the small shops that I grew up with in Park Slope, Brooklyn where I was raised. Noticing a void, I saw potential for a shop like Gifted to flourish in my neighborhood of Staten Island. The community was supportive.
While the creative and social aspects of having the store helped to fill my days productively, the most rewarding benefit of all was the opportunity to teach my young daughters, by example, to dream, work, achieve and persevere in the face of adversity. They were suffering the trauma of losing their father, our lives, changed forever, held challenges yet unknown, and it was important to me, that the girls be clear on the fact that though life is not always fair, there is always hope and opportunity even when we do not see it. There can be purpose and fulfillment in life even when bad, inexplicable, things happen.
Through a string of coincidences, or perhaps by divine plan, in 2014 I was afforded the opportunity to move Gifted from its original location, to a small brick and stone cottage that my late husband Joe adored for years as he was growing up on Staten Island. The little cottage was locally known as the “Roy Cutter Cottage,” where for many years, Mr. Roy Cutter operated an insurance company. The cottage, built by the Cutters in the late 1920's, was owned by the family for decades. When Joe and I were dating, he always pointed out the cottage to me when we drove past it. The day that I stood inside the vacant cottage, available for rent for the first time, as a result of Mr. Cutter's retirement, I was filled with awe, happiness and an overwhelming sense of Joe's warmth and presence with me that afternoon. Despite the dark chapter that was the year 2001, for me and my family, there I was, years later, sunshine on my face, blessed with the opportunity to forge new goals, hopes and dreams, feeling Joe's presence in the little cottage that he longed for.
Lemons in hand, whenever life serves them, I've learned to make the best of what is, change what I can, and strive to take small steps forward. Gifted is the fulfillment of a small dream, and a destination in the unexpected journey of my life after 9/11 and AA Flight #587. My cheery little shop makes customers happy and is an antidote to big box shopping. I like to help customers select gifts, and gift wrap them, knowing that someone’s day is going to be a little brighter with the gesture of a thoughtful little gift, just like many days were made a little brighter for me and my little girls in 2001, when we received gifts in the mail, and at our door step from complete strangers that simply wanted to show kindness. The girls received toys, books and blankets that made us smile and feel better on some of the darkest days. I will never forget those acts of kindness, and am eternally grateful for every thoughtful gesture. It’s the little things... Thank you for supporting this small business and the family behind it.
With love and gratitude,