The Woods Gifts owner, Dave Looney reflects on the shop’s beginnings and giving back to the community.
Dave and Linda Looney, owners of The Woods Gifts in Maple Grove, believe a business is as much a citizen as anyone else in town. That belief drives their ongoing community involvement and commitment to making fun events at The Woods available to the public. Their business has evolved over the years but the joy they get from being in the gift industry and being active in their community is enduring.
Dave’s early career was as a buyer for JC Penney. Linda was also the district manager at a County Seat clothing store. In 1985, Dave saw an opportunity to apply his retail background to the gift industry. “I originally wanted a general gift store,” says Dave. “But it was suggested we specialize.” That’s how their first store, Davlin’s Fine Crafted Gifts of Wood in St. Anthony Main was born.
Business boomed. Ten years later, Dave recognized another opportunity, to create a north woods lodge styled gift shop in Maple Grove. “We had a contest for coming up with the name,” Dave says. A customer chose The Woods, the name Dave was hoping for all along.
The Woods was built in Maple Grove in 1997 with expanded merchandise to include pottery, candles, home accessories and much more. The woodland themed gift shop wonderland known as The Woods also has locations in Southdale and Woodbury. “It’s great,” says Dave. “Linda is great with the creative aspect of arranging displays. We work well together. It’s a good partnership.”
The Woods also has a good partnership with the community. The store sponsors a wine tasting event in support of C.R.O.S.S. Food shelf. It has adopted Maple Grove Parkway for cleanup and collects Toys for Tots during the Christmas season.
The holiday season is a time for one of The Woods two biggest community events. For 16 years, The Woods in Maple Grove has hosted a Santa Claus for children to visit along with live reindeer. There are food demonstrations and giveaways. It’s wildly popular with kids and adults alike. This is followed up by a free spring event that offers kids visits with an Easter Bunny and a chance to pet live baby animals.
The Woods also sponsors a Father’s Day promotion to benefit local boy scouts. “We display boats in our parking lot on Father’s Day,” Dave says. “Boy scouts help out at the event by selling hotdogs, chips and pop. They keep the profits.”
Dave is also personally connected to serving the community as a trustee at Crosswinds United Methodist Church and as a girls’ softball coach through Maple Grove Parks and Recreation. “I coached my daughters in softball since they were in kindergarten,” he says. “They played traveling softball when they were older and now they’re grown and gone. So I try to apply what I’ve learned to help other young girls enjoy the sport.” Dave notes that sometimes kids come to see Santa Claus and end up pointing at him. They tell their parents, “That guy was my softball coach.”
In their spare time, Dave and Linda enjoy gardening and going to the movies–and Linda is a big fan of Zumba. But mostly, they appreciate the opportunity they have had over the years to develop relationships with associates, customers and vendors. “Some of our associates have been with us for 20 years or more,” says Dave who also admits his short attention span makes the gift industry a perfect fit for him. “I’m high energy and I enjoy the variety involved in what we do.”
LAST MINUTE GIFT IDEAS FROM THE WOODS:
• Fabulous WoodWick candle – dozens of fragrances to choose, $11-$50
• Fashion jewelry, scarves, earrings and necklaces available in every color of the rainbow, $6.95 – $45
• Goodies from the pantry: Soups from Maggie and Mary’s, dips from Wind and Willow and jams from Stonewall Kitchens $6.95 – $12
• Minnesota made mittens, scarves and hats designed from polar fleece or recycled sweaters $28 – $40
• Clever Funky Rock beverage dispenser for a show stopper bar gift $129