Kim A. Niemeyer has given his new shop in downtown Westminster a Gaelic name and said he hopes the business takes on some of the word's meaning.
Ceilidh, pronounced kay-lee, means an informal gathering of friends with music and food. Mr. Niemeyer wants his shop, which carries Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh gifts, to be welcoming. He invites browsers.
"It's not going to be a stuffy place," he said.
Mr. Niemeyer, 40, of Westminster saw the world while serving as a linguist in the Navy and enjoys meeting new people and challenges.
The shop, which opened Oct. 7 in Winchester Exchange at 15 E. Main St., is an adventure because it's his first try at running a business. He said he'll use "common sense" and a few sales tactics learned when he sold Turkish carpets while stationed in Turkey.
He said that when he retired in February after 22 years in the Navy, his wife, Helen, a hospice nurse, said, "OK, what are you going to do now?"
They considered opening a hobby shop or a bookstore, but downtown already had both, so they settled on a Celtic gift shop. Despite his German surname, Mr. Niemeyer said he has some Irish, Scottish and Welsh ancestors.
His wife will work in the shop evenings and weekends, he said.
R. Douglas Mathias, executive director of Greater Westminster Development Corp., said he was pleased to see a new shop open on Main Street.
"I think they're going to do right well, and they're coming in at the busy [holiday] season, which should benefit them," he said.
Ceilidh will be open six days a week, including Sundays. Mr. Mathias said he is encouraging downtown merchants to expand their weekend hours to draw more customers.
Mr. Niemeyer said he plans to stock a range of gifts, including hand-knit Irish sweaters, English scone mixes and St. Andrew's golfing items from Scotland.
His goal is to obtain an importer's license so that he can order products directly from makers abroad. He said he hopes to attend craft shows in Ireland and England to meet weavers and (( knitters who might sign contracts to sell exclusively to him.
Mr. Niemeyer said he plans to establish a bridal registry where couples could choose Tipperary crystal and Cre porcelain, both from Ireland, and other gifts.
The price range will be wide. Some hand-knit sweaters will sell for almost $200, while tea and other food products will be less than $5.
The shop will be a "classy" place, Mr. Niemeyer said. But when St. Patrick's Day nears, he said he may carry a few "Kiss Me I'm Irish" key chains.