Kim Rutledge said small business makes up the fabric of a community and it is apparent in the City of Milton in how its residents support their local marketplace.
The bridal registry sign at Fine Things on Dogwood Drive in Milton is now an icon, she said. It’s a large part of her business.
She said she had a bride tell her it was as much a part of Milton as Milton Bakery. “She said she was excited to have her name on the sign. The bride said, that, as a child she thought, ‘I want my name up there one day,'” said Rutledge, “When she said this to me, I was flattered. She lives in San Francisco, the Mecca of shopping and she wanted to be on my bridal registry.”
Fine Things hours of operation are 10 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Located at 5131 Dogwood Drive, Milton, FL. (850) 623-1795 or visit their website at http://www.finethingsetc.com
Rutledge said her customers at Fine Things are loyal. “We’ve been open since 1991. Some of those customers remember when the store belonged to my mother and called Crib to College. We have evolved throughout the years. We now are primarily decorative accents, boutique clothing, shoes and increased our concentration of jewelry. Of course, the bridal registry is huge,” she said.
She believes the location of Fine Things, right next to the post office, has helped her business as the traffic count helps her customer base. “We’re a convenience for people in the city,” she said. “We are a place to shop for quality merchandise where you don’t have to drive to Pensacola. We offer complimentary gift wrap, which is a popular service.”
Rutledge said she’s always wanted to own her own business. She began helping her mother at Crib to College when she was in the 9th grade, she said. “I learned the trade first hand. My mother helped me get started. She would remind customers nicely that the store was under new management and no longer hers.”
Social media has changed her business practices. Fine Things’ Facebook page has a loyal customer following. One post by a follower said, “Fine Things is one of my fave shops in the world! I mean yes, the world. Kim always goes the extra mile for me, and I am so grateful I have a local gem for all my home goods and gifts. Shop local, support your hometown places and see all the beauty this shop has!”
Rutledge said customer service is her priority. “We do our very best to get to know our clientele. Our customers are our friends. We try to know them by name. We want everyone to feel at home,” she said. She said she believes in shopping local, which contributes to local economy. “I wish people would think about it more. Small business owners are the people who support the local softball team. We provide local sponsorships. Amazon isn’t going to help the local soccer team.