We are speaking today with Lou Ann Gibson and Libby Stines,
owners of The Teacher Box and Libby Lou’s Gifts…
GA!: What prompted you to open a full time educational supply business in Gaston County?
Lou Ann: Libby was in the educational supply business for 15 years before working with me as a teacher assistant. After retiring from teaching, I was ready for a new challenge. Knowing that learning doesn’t stop in mid-afternoon or for the summer, we wanted to become partners and open The Teacher Box. We are the only store within 30 miles that provides materials and resources for teachers and parents.
GA!: You’ve been open now for three years. How has your business evolved during that time?
Lou Ann: Initially, we started out focusing on the supply needs of teachers and students. We had a small gift section in the store to allow our customers access to purchase gifts for teachers, co-workers, and friends. The customer demand quickly grew. Last fall, we added additional floor space and created LibbyLou’s Gifts and Accessories within The Teacher Box. We sell market totes, bags of all sizes, candles, lotions, jewelry, tumblers, frames, etc. We carry popular brands such as Lilly Pulitzer, Coton Colors, Natural Life, Scout, Woodwick, Aspen Bay, John Wind, Moon and Lola, Mainstreet, Gloryhaus, Sloan Ranger, Nora Fleming, Susan Shaw, Towne and Reese, and much more! We also provide monogramming and vinyl lettering so our customers can personalize the gifts they purchase.
GA!: What do parents say when they visit the store?
Libby: Usually we hear them say. . .”Wow! We didn’t know that you had all of this!” Then, we determine their need and personally help them find the right product. Some parents just want help to enrich their child’s classroom experience. Often we hear that their child is struggling with a particular subject and they ask if we have the resources that can help get them up to speed. Some just want to know how to get their child from B’s and C’s up to A’s. Others are home-schooled families who want to know what we have to support their children and prepare them for college.
GA: Are there educational items in your store that go beyond what is taught in the classroom?
Libby: Absolutely. We have educational toys and games for toddlers so they can have fun while developing basic learning skills and adapt faster once they enter school. Parents as well as daycare centers and pre-schools like the early development resources we carry. On the other end of the spectrum, we have things like Algebra and Language workbooks and SAT Preparation materials for high school juniors and seniors. We think of ourselves as supporting all levels of learning from birth to graduation.
GA!: How do you keep up with the current needs in the classroom?
Lou Ann: We strive very hard to go the extra mile in finding the newest trends for our store. We attend trade shows where we attain great information from our suppliers. Also, teachers come in and keep us up to date on program changes and any new curriculum. This helps us help the teachers by making sure we stock the materials they need.
GA!: What do you want the community to know about your store?
Lou Ann: Most people think we only serve teachers but we are so much more. Churches need supplies for Bible School and Sunday School so we carry a lot of religious themed items. Businesses, as well as churches, daycares, and preschools often need large bulletin board paper or laminating for poster board and other items. Our environment portrays a “preppy and chic” style and we are a fun place to visit. Libby Lou’s Gifts and Accessories offers a full collection of home and personalized gifts. We have something for every age and occasion and invite everyone to visit our store.