To celebrate the 15th anniversary of The Italian Dish in Birmingham, Holly Anselmi wanted to do something special to thank her customers.
“I had hoped to have a big party at the store,” Holly said, her voice radiating sincere gratitude for a community that has welcomed her with loyal patronage, and has helped to make her dreams of business ownership come true. “We wanted to say ‘thank you’ to all of our loyal customers over the last 15 years, and tell them how much we appreciate their support and how much we love being a part of the Birmingham community.”
Her gratitude runs even deeper than that.
As fate would have it, plans for the in-store party to thank customers of The Italian Dish were derailed by the sweeping changes in how we live, shop and interact while the COVID-19 pandemic plays out. Instead of a party this summer, Holly found herself rethinking the way she serves customers at her specialty gift shop, how she reaches them online and through social media, and how the business can continue to grow with a silver lining despite so many challenges.
“The word of 2020 is pivot, and I really did that,” Holly said. “I went into the store every day. I did videos. I posted them on Facebook and Instagram, and then went in and took orders.”
A summer of construction along Maple Road that hampered travel around the store was just piling on.
Through it all, Holly said her customers really came through, underscoring the support she’s seen all along when her business needed it the most.
“With COVID, my customers really stepped up. I want to thank them for all of their loyalty and support during this very difficult time for all of us,” Holly said. “They were struggling. We were struggling. They wanted to make sure The Italian Dish survived.”
Holly did some creative things to thank her customers during the height of the pandemic-related shutdown, like loading gift cards with a bonus 20 percent. How they responded when she needed them most brought out genuine emotion.
“There were a few that did come right out and say, ‘Before you do anything drastic, call us.’ It was very heartwarming, to say the least,” she said. “I feel that over the last 15 years the store has become a part of the community and a lot of my customers have become friends. I treasure that. It makes going to work easy. I really appreciate them.”
Holly said The Italian Dish is stocked and ready for the holidays. Maple Road is now open and curbside pickup options are available.
“It’s been a challenging year but it has inspired me and in fact, this outpouring of support from my customers has motivated me even more,” Holly said. “It’s going to hopefully allow me to be here for another 15 years.”
Holly founded The Italian Dish after a trip to Italy with her niece in 2003, where she discovered the beauty of hand-painted ceramic dishes. The store now offers a variety of beautiful specialty gifts including dishes and serveware, soaps, lotion, specialty foods and home decor.
The Italian Dish is located at 288 E. Maple in Birmingham. Find them on Facebook and Instagram. Visit them online at www.theitaliandish.com. For hours or more information, call (248) 593-8299.
Written and Published by the Birmingham/Bloomfield Eagle on November 12, 2020