By S.E. Williams
Thirty-eight years ago CeeAnn Thiel opened Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s at the Mission Inn. The whimsical and eclectic shop started as a children’s store. It is named for the character, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle who appears in the 1905 Beatrix Potter children’s book of the same name.
Although a changing business climate in the intervening years since the shop opened nudged Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s toward a more adult focused-theme, the fanciful boutique has never lost its sense of magic.
For nearly four decades CeeAnn has fostered meaningful connections with the customers she serves. “It’s just the sharing of life’s events,” she responded when asked about those relationships. “The fact that they trust me enough to feel comfortable telling me stuff,” she added has been her most rewarding experience in all the years she has served the community as a small business owner. During those years CeeAnn has been privileged to enjoy customers who once frequented her shop as children, grow up, move away and return to visit her years later, sometimes with children of their own.
The boutique moved from its original Mission Inn location to its current shop on Main Street years ago. CeeAnn considers Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s as another part of the entertainment on Riverside’s intimate town center mall. “People either want to buy something or they just want to be entertained,” she explained. Riverside is not a mall in the sense of today’s mega shopping centers. “It’s soulful, a more personal, intimate place,” is how CeeAnn described it.
The shop is filled with unique items, many of them handmade, some vintage. CeeAnn’s artistic eye is evidenced in each and every vignette strategically placed throughout the store—they never fail to tell a story and engage her customers’ imaginations.
According to CeeAnn, creating the displays is her creative outlet. “I love picking colors and themes,” she said. “At this point in my life it gives me a big kick. I really enjoy it.” And, she especially loves creating scenes for the store’s Christmas window displays. Years ago,” she explained, “A friend gave me an Italian-made baby Jesus with glass eyes. “I try to do something unusual and different with how I display it each year.”
Not surprisingly, perhaps Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s most celebrated and widely admired artistic arrangements are found in CeeAnn’s window displays. Hardly a passerby can resist their promises of fanciful treasures and whimsical surprises that lie within—those who enter are never disappointed.
Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s Gift Shop
3675 Main St