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Gift-shop owner scours globe to hand-pick products

Tina Prins, owner of Blu Poppie in Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.

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This is the latest entry in a series from Report on Small Business called Who Owns That. We've asked readers to identify their favourite small businesses from across Canada, and we track down the owners so they can tell us their stories. Their answers are edited.

Introducing Tina Prins, the owner of Fort Saskatchewan, Alta.-based blu poppie.

1. Let's start with the basics. Can you briefly describe your business, including when it was founded, what it does, how big it is, and number of locations?

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The blu poppie is a quaint gift shop located in the heart of the historical downtown of Fort Saskatchewan. It all started in the fall of 2004, when on a whim I decided to rent a building, make a phone call to my parents and tell them we were in business together. After two years of partnership and lots of guidance I decided to purchase my own building and go solo. At the blu poppie, customers will find artisan-designed products, custom-made bed linens, vintage-inspired clothing and gifts with a European flare.

2. What inspired you to be an entrepreneur and to enter this industry?

My inspiration came from my parents and my husband, both of whom have an entrepreneurial spirit. The inspiration for the name blu poppie came from my grandmother's love for her flower garden, most of all the Himalayan Blue Poppies.

3. Who are your typical customers, and how do they find you?

My customers come from all over. With welcoming window displays that change seasonally and a red door that implies curiosity, our customers pop into the blu poppie to experience one-of-a-kind shopping.

4. How many employees do you have, and what is your role in the business?

When you come to the blu poppie chances are you will be greeted by me, the owner. My role is to heighten your shopping experience by being knowledgeable about my product lines. It is important to me that my customers feel they can come to the blu poppie to find the perfect gift.

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5. You've been identified by one of our readers as a standout business. What do you consider the key element of your success?

The key element of success, I believe, is having self-confidence. I personally take time to choose my favourite products and I enjoy searching the globe for lines that people will love to receive as special gifts. Self-assurance is another element, knowing that whatever I choose will be what blu poppie's customers will love as well.

I strongly believe you have to follow your passion. With support, love and guidance from my family, I was and I am able to do so and I am truly thankful for that.

Do you have a favourite small business you'd like to learn more about? Make suggestions and join the conversation on the Globe's Small Business LinkedIn group, use the comments field, or email us at smallbusiness@globeandmail.com. You can follow the series on our Pinterest page.

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About the Author
Sean Stanleigh

Sean Stanleigh is the product manager of Report on Small Business. His goal is to make ROSB the primary destination for readers in search of information and compelling stories about Canada's small-business community, which continues to grow in size and influence. Mr. More

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