Prim & Proper Gifts and Gift Wrapping Services
3550 W. Seventh St.
There’s a certain joy to pulling off a package’s bow, untying the ribbon and tearing off the wrapping paper that just doesn’t happen with a gift bag.
That’s what 35-year-old Melanie Jones is banking on.
Jones is the founder of Fort Worth’s Prim & Proper Gifts and Gift Wrapping Services, 3550 West Seventh St., which opened in 2010.
Since she was a little girl, Jones always knew that working for someone else wasn’t going to be an option. Born into a family of small-business owners, entrepreneurs and creative people, Jones told her mother at age 12 that she would own her own department store one day.
To learn the ins and outs of business and how to be her own boss, Jones left Fort Worth to study international relations with an emphasis in marketing at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. But, she says, she felt that the program was more focused on grooming her to work for someone else rather than to be the boss.
“I never saw myself working at a desk every day, clocking in and creating something for someone else and that being the end,” Jones said. “I wanted a certain amount of responsibility for both successes and failures, so I never really saw myself working for someone as a part of that.”
After realizing the business degree plan wasn’t for her, Jones moved across the country and enrolled in New York’s Parson School of Design to complete an associate degree in fashion studies with an emphasis in women’s wear and design.
She had just finishing her creative studies when her mother, Alyce Adair Jones, called. She was to undergo surgery and she needed Jones to come help run her business, Adair Eyewear.
Jones returned to Fort Worth in 2007 and was pleased to find that the area around her mom’s shop on West Seventh Street had a number of small, women-owned and locally owned businesses. After working at Adair for a few years, Jones decided it was time to follow in her family’s footsteps and open her own shop.
“I grew up in retail and I feel like, as a result, I understand it and I like it and appreciate it, especially being a local small business and dealing with your customers one-on-one and then ordering based on your clientele,” she said.
Jones wanted her store to have the curated boutique style she missed from New York. Her goal was to tell a story through her business, rather than have her business be about a product.
She founded Prim & Proper as a gift boutique but as time went on and she got to know her clients, Jones says, her store went through changes.
“As I grew and matured, the store did so with me. Now we have baby stuff. Before I had my son, we had dog stuff,” Jones said. “That’s the thing a local business can do — we can communicate with our customer while still reflecting [our own] esthetic and viewpoint.”
In fact, the boutique has gone through so many phases of refinement and adjustment that a customer from Prim & Proper’s beginnings might not recognize the store today where the gift-wrapping service is what reigns supreme.
Because her boutique featured gifts, Jones also sold gift wrap. Once, she had a customer who needed gifts in a hurry and asked Jones to help wrap them.
Jones agreed and at the end of the exchange, the customer told her that she should consider offering gift wrapping.
And the idea of a gift-wrapping service was born.
The service has grown organically, like the store itself. From her beginnings of wrapping gifts purchased from her boutique, she has expanded to wrapping any gift a customer brings in.
Gift-wrapping services now make up most of her business, and she keeps very few gift items in stock. She expects to eventually shift to offering gift wrapping only and says that Prim & Proper will probably be rebranded to accompany that change.
Jones says Prim & Proper aims to offer a place that makes gift wrapping convenient so the personal touch of giving a perfectly wrapped gift isn’t lost, especially with the popularity of online shopping.
Jones hopes to someday expand to another location to reach more people, but says she first needs to fully transition from gift selling to gift wrapping.
Prim & Proper offers gift boxes, wrapping paper, ribbon, made-on-the-spot bows, tissue paper, tags and more at a starting price of $14 for gift-wrapping services. Or, customers can just buy the supplies. The store also has gift wrapping stations where people can come in, buy what they need and wrap their gifts themselves.
Jones says that because hers is the only storefront gift-wrapping service in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the store sees a lot of different types of people.
But her target audience, Jones explained, isn’t necessarily based on demographics or bullet points but is people who get joy from the smile of another.
“When someone goes and picks out a gift, wherever it might be, the gift is a reflection of that person taking the time out to give a gift and I don't think [gift] bags do that,” she said. “Just like you took the time out to purchase something, the person should have that special moment of opening a perfectly wrapped gift.
“As I move forward, the store is about creating the gift that people want to create,” Jones said. “We’re here to help and to make someone's vision of a gift come true in any way that we can.”