Tiffany Gillespie has always worked hard and held on to her dream of some day owning her own boutique. Now that dream has come full circle. 
Most residents know the hometown girl as a former teacher, an associate in a former shop owned by Rita Bunck, artisan of eclectic jewelry and clothing, and in recent years the manager of the gift department at Cooper Drug.  Gillespie also owned her own jewelry business and managed a couple of Wichita Hallmark stores.
With training from Hallmark and working along side Bunck - which she refers to as “the College of Rita” - combined with her talent for design, it seemed a natural step for her to become the window dresser at Cooper Drug in 2005. The next step was expanding the business’ gift department.
“She came to work here two years before the remodel in 2007. She was instrumental in keeping our gift department.  She grew it beyond all of my expectations,” said Cooper Drug owner and pharmacist Brett Kappelmann.
Both Gillespie and Kappelmann laugh remembering how she would add merchandise a little at a time. She credits the pharmacist with being patient and giving her the freedom to expand.
“There were a few times when I know he wondered about the purses and other items -- but he was always supportive,” she said.
“It didn’t take long for me to ‘get’ it.  I trusted her.  She changed everyone’s perception and the gifts became a great draw for this place,” Kappelmann advised.
And it didn’t take long before residents were buzzing about ‘Tiffany’s’ merchandise.  Shoppers always looked forward to her seasonal displays and any new items added to the inventory.  Her special sales and events, such as the annual Witches’ Night Out in October, became tradition for many shoppers, as well.
If she wasn’t convinced before, finding out Rita Bunck’s former shop was available, helped her realize that it was time to move forward with plans for her own shop.  Her dream will come full circle next month when Boutique 1631 opens at 521 State. 
The 1631 in the boutique’s name is a reference to Acts 16:31, “...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.”  The inclusion of the verse is an affirmation of her faith and her husband James, pastor at the Andover Baptist Church.
“The time is right and I’m so excited.  The boutique will feature the same merchandise, but I’m adding clothing lines and much more,” she added, ”And Rita will be bringing lots of her items, too.”
Kappelmann will miss Gillespie, but only wishes her great success, “I’m totally in her corner.  We’re happy that Cooper Drug helped her with her customer base -- she’s been so successful at growing the business...it’s a great situation and a good time for her to do this.”
But there won’t be any empty windows or shelves at Cooper Drug after her departure.  The long-time downtown business will still feature Hallmark products, Yankee Candles, coffee, candy, and other select gift items in addition to all of their pharmacy products.
The community is invited to drop by Cooper Drug between 3 to 5:30 p.m. this Friday and wish the new owner of Augusta’s Boutique 1631 great success.