Oakhurst Giftworks will hold its 39th annual Christmas Open House Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 12, 13 & 14. It’s a terrific opportunity for the community to start (and finish) their holiday shopping.
There is a reason that locals call Sue Graham “Aunt Sue.” Few businesses in the Oakhurst area can claim to have the history of Oakhurst Giftworks, created by Sue and Randy Graham as Oakhurst Frameworks in 1980. The original location was a small building on Road 426 between Mountain Comforts and Oakhurst Feed. In 1982, the business moved to two suites of the four at the newly-rebuilt Raintree Building, its current location, at the corner of Road 426 and Highway 41, just behind Ditton Realty.
At that time, Radio Shack and Mode-o-Day Clothing occupied the other two suites.
At the beginning Sue did the framing, which comprised the majority of the business. She rented out spots to local antique/gift dealers, including Sharon Fitzgerald, yet another Oakhurst “institution.”
Around 1984 Randy left his job at PG&E and along with daughter Annie (who had her own little bedroom at the business), started working with Sue.
As time passed, Radio Shack moved, and the Grahams took over that spot, knocking out walls with the help of Don Cram and Jim Perry. They added more gifts and more dealers into the increased space. With the exit of Mode-o-Day/Fashion Crossroads, the Grahams took over that last part of the building and moved the frame shop to that last room.
Son Casey was born in 1986. As hands-on parents, Sue and Randy worked shifts so that one parent was always with the children.
Sue doesn’t remember the exact year they moved the frame shop to a separate location in Oakhurst Shopping Center, which enabled them to yet again expand their offerings of gifts and antiques. Around that time son Casey renamed the businesses Oakhurst Giftworks and Oakhurst Frameworks.
Their eclectic offerings include antiques, locally made gifts, candles, scrapbooking items, tea shoppe, windchimes, John Wayne memorabilia and lodge items, Yosemite souvenirs, coloring books, kitchen kitsch, willow angels, women’s accessories, greeting cards and calendars, frames, locally-made gourds, pine needle baskets, and ever so much more.
“The COVID shutdown was a mixed blessing,” Sue says. “The store shut down for eight to nine weeks It forced me to learn how to do online selling and advertising, which with the help of Debi and Kelli allowed me to pay the rent, shall we say–so there was a silver lining. At first it was very, very hard, however with the help of friends/co-workers, we took one day at a time and survived.”
The biggest challenge was trying to follow the ever-changing rules and regulation while remaining responsive to customers’ needs and wants.
Sue has no plans for future changes. She wants to “staying focused on my community, my customers and my family—I am sort of a one-step-at-a time person, so I have no big future plans in place other than finding cute stuff that my customers want, always being present, on time, open and enjoying each day.”
When asked about challenges, she cites keeping shoppers local, increasing the aesthetics of our downtown, working together. “We need more restaurants and more cohesiveness in the appearance of our town—a theme, as it were.”
In the end, Sue and Randy love their happy customers, an enjoyable working place, being part of the community. She says she couldn’t stay in business without her customers and their never-ending support.
The community loves you, too, Sue and Randy.