Lori Petersen wanted more out of life. Sixteen years in the legal field sitting at a computer wasn’t cutting it for her. So, she quit.
Besides, she had more important things to do.
Now, Petersen is her own boss and can see her grandkids whenever she wants. For about a month, LuLu’s Gift Store at 271 Los Altos Parkway has been providing patrons with gift selections that they wouldn’t find at the big chain stores that have been taking the Sparks area by storm.
Petersen, 48, grew up in Sparks and said she remembered riding horses where her store now sits. It was open land all the way to Pyramid Lake. But even with all the new stores, Petersen still never could find the gift she was looking for.
So, she decided she’d open her own shop, call it LuLu after a nickname only her parents called her and she would bring back that personal feel that the chain stores lacked.
“I know what I like and what I want, and the chain stores around just don’t have it,” Petersen said. “So I said, ‘OK, let’s do it.’ ”
After years of not being able to find gifts for her father and other people, Petersen got the idea of starting her own store that would sell such a variety of items that patrons would be sure to find the gifts they were looking for.
“The store offers something for everyone for every occasion,” Petersen said, describing her gift shop in one sentence.
With candles, baby gift baskets, clocks, sports memorabilia, flowers, tea sets and any kind of knick-knack that can be imagined, LuLu’s has it. If a man is driving home from work and remembers it’s his anniversary, he needn’t worry — LuLu’s Gift Store has him covered with a selection of bouquets and other small gifts.
“I wanted someone to be able to come in here during any season and for any occasion or interest and be able to find something,” Petersen said.
Petersen searched high and low to try to cover as many interests as possible in her small store. She began with her family’s interests to jumpstart the store.
‘There’s a little bit of me in the store,” Petersen said. “There’s also a little bit of my daughters and my father, brother and mom.”
Petersen collects frogs so she sells a frog tea set. For her mom she sells birdhouses and for her brother, who loves ducks, she has a sign that reads “shut the duck up.” And for her father, Petersen sells model ships. Calling him the most difficult person to shop for, Petersen no longer had to resort to giving her dad that same old boring sweater or gift card holiday after holiday. All she has to do is browse her own store.
And she said she has good prices to boot.
“I didn’t want anything expensive but I also didn’t want to be the dollar store or Wal-Mart,” Petersen said. “I don’t believe in jacking up prices. I look at something and think how much I would pay for it and that’s how much I sell it for.”
And Petersen isn’t done yet. Depending on how successful LuLu’s Gift Store proves to be, when her three- year lease is up Petersen would like to own her own land and build a much bigger store.
“I just want something that is my own, something that’s me,” she said.