Beth Reymann believed a gift shop would do well in Catonsville. But if she wanted to run one and do it right, it would need to be along the 800 block of Frederick Road.
The combination of foot traffic and restaurants would be key for getting customers, she thought.
"I probably would not have attempted this in any other block of Catonsville," she said.
After running Opie's Soft Serve & Snowballs for a decade, it was time for her to find a new venture.
The opportunity came about when Mary Chizmadia told Reymann last fall she was considering retiring and closing Ken's Old Fashioned Candy Shop. It got her thinking about renting the space.
After Chizmadia died in March, Reymann assumed the end of building's lease, which was supposed to end June 30. She got the keys to the building May 15 and opened Pat's Porch — named after her late mother — on May 31.
Reymann wanted to keep the candy line but was looking for something else to complement it. That's where the gift shop came in.
A lifelong Catonsville resident, Reymann knew a gift shop was lacking in Catonsville. When people wanted to stop to get a gift, they would go to Ellicott City or Route 40, she said.
She's trying to change that pattern, providing what she described as "a little bit of a lot of things" in her shop, from cards, to baby gifts and housewarming presents.
At Pat's Porch, customers are greeted by a front table that will have different themes over the course of the year. With the Fourth of July, the theme is the American flag, with the table featuring flags of different sizes, stickers, gifts and hats, including a cowboy hat and a baseball cap with a C — for Catonsville — filled in with stars and stripes.
Many of the gifts in the store have local or American ties to them. When customers purchase baby products from Bella Tunno, the company donates a meal to a homeless child in America, Reymann said.
Artwork with local connections line the perimeter of the store, whether it's a Catonsville sign or prints from local artists such as Baltimore-based Anchor Point Paper Co. or re-used wine bottle candles from Unwined Candle Co. in Randallstown.
For Emily Hein, owner of Anchor Point Paper Co., Pat's Porch is the third store she's had her work sold in. Good sales have resulted in her having to restock certain prints and has motivated her to explore getting into more stores in the area.
"It's so easy for people to pick up a Hallmark card at the grocery store," she said. "It's just great to have people in the community supporting local small businesses."
Other gifts are made of recycled materials, such as a variety of toys for children from The Original Green Toys which are made out of recycled milk jugs.
Reymann decided to focus on gifts made in America because she believes it's a selling point.
"I'm looking for things that are kind of different from what you'd find at a regular store," she said. "So I'm going to keep with the American theme."
The candy bar remains in the back room, featuring the popular penny candy such as the 9-cent Satellite Wafers and 4-cent Sour Patch pieces, along with a variety of chocolates.
But perhaps what is most appealing to Reymann is the porch, itself, complete with a pair of rocking chairs, giving customers a view of the hustle and bustle along Catonsville's main street.
"It's kind of like the boardwalk out there," she said.
While the store is typically closed on Mondays, it will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, July 4.