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Votes

Kit & Caboodle

<b>Owner: </b>

Reba Burns

<b>Short bio: </b>

I am a 2nd generation native of Northern Virginia. I grew up in Arlington, moved to Alexandria in my late 20's where I have resided ever since (I won't say how long). I was educated at the University of Maryland where I received a B.A. in political science and a M.Ed in secondary education. I taught U.S. and Virginia Government at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax for 10 years. Later I served as a special assistant at the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, primarily providing oversight in the implementation of model educational programs and speechwriting.

My family consists of a husband, Bob, a broadcast journalist with the Voice of America (and sometime Kit & Caboodle helper); a daughter, Julie, a librarian at Kenyon College in Ohio; a daughter, Jennifer, who works in the film industry in Los Angeles, currently with the Weinstein Company; and a cat, Jade, who serves as muse and companion.

<b>Why did you choose this particular business? </b>

Actually started out with a different business plan. An importer of international food products had a special line of Italian pasta. He suggested putting together pasta gift baskets during the holiday season. That venture proved to be quite successful and Kit & Caboodle permanently became a gift basket business.

<b>Why did you choose to work for yourself rather than as an employee for someone else? </b>

I had been doing gift baskets on a part-time basis for 3 or 4 years, while maintaining a full time job. One evening a friend came over to pick up some baskets she had ordered. While we were chatting she mentioned that she had heard retail space in the Crilley Warehouse was going to be available. I knew then that I wanted to rent that space and I did so the very next day (after quitting my job). It was a rash decision but it was based on a desire that I had always had to try my entrepreneurial skills and work in a creative environment. It has been a challenge from the beginning but I look forward to every day. I have never regretted the decision.

<b>What have you learned from being in business? </b>

So much that I could write a book, perhaps I will someday.

If I had to pick the most important I would say when you are in business you are going to make mistakes--learn from them and move on. (Also, a difficult lesson during my first year in the shop--don't order too much Christmas candy)

<b>What have been the advantages and/or disadvantages of operating a business in Alexandria? </b>

Alexandria offers the charm of a small town with an air of urbanity. Combine that with the historical perspective and the attractive neighborhoods and you have a gem of an environment for operating a business. The "gem" may need some polishing from time to time i.e., parking problems, traffic issues but overall I can't think of a better place to be.

<b>Key staff: </b>

Friendly, helpful individuals who fill in from time to time. We adore chatting with our customers and assisting them if they need it. If they would rather browse on their own that is fine too.

<b>Description of services and/or products: </b>

We offer gift baskets by design. We work with businesses, law firms, associations, individuals to provide for their gift giving needs. No matter the occasion our creative designs have brightened the day of new hires, new parents, business associates, customers, friends, students, campers, the ailing, the bereaved, those attending meetings/conventions, wedding participants & guests--any occasion can be enhanced with a specialty basket. A large percentage of our gift basket business is conducted by phone--call, tell us what you want--we will take care of it. If it is a large project we can offer a variety of possibilities.

In our shop we have a eclectic collection geared to the young and the young at heart. The space is limited so we offer the best of those items that we offer: greeting cards, gourmet foods, toys (puzzles and games), party favors, fun gifts for all ages.