Happi Names: Personalized gifts offer special touch

07/15/2014 5:30 PM

07/15/2014 5:30 PM

For those struggling to find the perfect gift for a buddy, a new grandchild, or anyone from a bride to a birthday girl, a shop owner in Overland Park suggests getting a bit personal. Who doesn’t want to see her name in lights — or at least paint or embroidery floss?

A little shop tucked into a strip mall will help you find that perfect gift, and the pros there will engrave or embroider that customized touch — whether it be initials, a name or an image. It’s whatever feels right, say the artists in the store.

“At different times of the year, we see various things do well,” says Kendra Werst, who does the embroidery at the store. “Right now, it’s wedding season; in May, graduation was big.”

Overall, the top seller is a classic: Let’s hear it for the piggy bank. It’s the perfect way to welcome a new baby, says Happi Names’ owner Natalie Hopper.

Hopper, who has been owner of the 17-year-old business for five of them, says she feels good knowing the store does one essential thing well:

“In general, I feel as if we do a great job of making people happy,” she says, alluding to the shop’s name. “That’s really the best part of this job. We’ve made their day.”

Shelves in the tiny shop are filled with everything from baby blankets to towels. Imagine anything you could emblazon initials on, and it’s tucked in here, from ballcaps to cups. But the team, which includes freehand artist Jen Robison, is happy to engrave, paint or embroider anything people bring in.

“And we’ve had a few unusual requests,” says Hopper. Laughter breaks out in the back of the shop. “But we really can’t tell them.”

While Christmas, along with graduation and wedding seasons, are popular, the business stays pretty busy year-round. After all babies, the recipients of the classic banks and blankets, happen year-round.

A look at the back of the shop tells all about the customizing business. On shelves designated for customer pick-up, two piggy banks sit side-by-side. One emblazoned with the name “Brady” is painted with every piece of sports equipment imaginable. One featuring the name “Elissa” is swimming in flowers and butterflies.

Werst, who graduated with an art degree, puts her talents to the test when she helps customers, whether they’re looking for blankets for their grandchildren or shirts for bridesmaids.

“When I’m talking to customers, and really figuring out what they want, I feel as if I’m using my talents,” Werst says. “That’s when I like the job the most.”

Happi Names

Where: 7558 W. 119th St., Overland Park

Contact: 913-327-1699; happinameskc.com

Hours: 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday

Nearby restaurant: Sheridan’s Unforked, 7337 W. 119th St.

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