By KENDAL GRONER
This past summer, a new locally owned business joined the Downtown Jonesborough community. Gigi’s Pantry offers fresh smoothies, salads, custom gift baskets and Amish-inspired pantry items.
Jennifer Walters owns and operates Gigi’s Pantry with help from her daughter-in-law Kaylee Walters. After opening on July 1, 2020, Walters said there were numerous challenges they faced starting a business during the height of the pandemic, particularly with the cancellation of town events.
“That is really what brings people to Jonesborough,” Walters said. “The town has done a really good job at creating new ways to have similar events, like the Chocolate Fest. They have definitely done an excellent job as far as thinking outside the box and creating ways that traffic can come through here.”
Walters said part of their business model is having several avenues of revenue to reach a larger customer base. Two of the main items they offer are their freshly made salads and smoothies from carefully sourced ingredients.
“These go great when there are events because I see people wanting a healthy alternative and to have something refreshing to drink while they are enjoying the festivities,” she said.
Gigi’s Pantry offers tropical smoothies and richer, “not-so-guilty-pleasure” smoothies along with a keto-friendly Farmhouse Salad, Chicken Salad, and a Berry Bliss Salad. For their salads, they use fresh produce and hormone-free meats.
The smoothies are made with organic coconut milk or non-GMO almond milk for the base. Along with a myriad of fruits, including acai and dragonfruit, these smoothies also have superfoods such as chia, flax, and spinach blended in. For their richer smoothies, some include iced coffee, protein powders and nut butters.
“We try to make them delicious and nutritious,” said Walters. “We try to use really good ingredients. We also have the ‘Unicorn Nanoberry Smoothie,’ and we’ll put a unicorn sucker in there for the kids. We have a new ‘Mermaid Smoothie’ now that is blue. We try to do something seasonal in addition to our everyday items.”
A few of their popular customizable gifts include their TN Welcome Home Collection, Body, Heart, and Soul care packages,and their charcuterie boards that include meats, cheeses, sauces, pecans, and infused olive oils.
Walters said she particularly enjoys making their Body, Heart, and Soul care packages with the intention to make an emotional connection by including specially picked food items as well as something sentimental.
“I wanted to create a care package, hopefully for somebody who needs something for getting well, a funeral, or a new baby,” she said. “So for the body, it will have some food in it. Whether it’s snacks or something for a meal. Then for heart and soul, that’s where we put in something sentimental, and then something inspirational to uplift your heart.”
Some of the inspirational items they include are adult coloring books and inspirational mugs or word signs. The TN Welcome Home collection is popular among realtors in the area, and all gift baskets range from $30 to $50 which includes free delivery to businesses in Johnson City or Jonesborough.
Customers can also browse through their large collection of pantry items that are mostly sourced from Ohio and Pennsylvania. Many of their packaged items are nutritious and allergen friendly such as sauces, gluten-free noodles and pancakes, chocolates, pickled foods and cured meats.
Gigi’s Pantry is located at 137 E. Main Street in Jonesborough, and is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.