A visit to Reminisce, a quaint gift store in a handsome red building in Bluffton’s Promenade, truly can be a step back in time, in more ways than one.
On one shelf might be a teddy bear that looks like the one you had when you were 7; inside a glass case in the corner is a signed baseball from your teen idol; that aroma of those lavender soaps reminds you of your mom when she was reading bedtime stories to you.
Hanging on the wall behind the cash register is a large framed photo of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin, reminding you of black-and-white TV music specials and movies you watched in college.
Here’s an old school Santa, there’s a graphic of a Scotty dog on ice skates, and around the corner is a small replica of your granddad’s 1940s Ford pick-up.
It is virtually impossible to walk into the store and not see something that brings back a flood of good memories.
Jerry Glenn has plenty of those too, and he is eager to share some of them with anyone willing to listen. Glenn is the proprietor, with his daughter Lori, in the family-owned business that got its start on Hilton Head Island in 1988.
“I’ve been in sales all my life, starting with 13 years at A&P,” he said. (For younger readers, “A&P” was short for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company, which started in 1859 and evolved into a major grocery store chain.) He also worked for Nabisco, the cookie company, for 37 years, winding up his career as national director of sales, with an office on Park Avenue in Manhattan.
Upon retirement and moving to the Lowcountry, Glenn just couldn’t let it all go. Glenn tells of moving with his wife, Audrey, to the island in 1987, and opening their first store, the Cinnamon Bear, in Main Street Village the next year. “We were the third business to open there,” he recalled.
The country store featured upscale plush toys, eventually adding the Cooperstown Teddy Bear line, tins of caramel corn, and French soaps (“That was Audrey’s idea,” Glenn said), among other popular items.
It was a natural progression to sell collectibles in the store, as Jerry and Audrey had been weekend antiques dealers for years. They found joy in seeking out their favorite things, and finding treasures for others to buy. They became a premier seller of the Cooperstown bears, selling more than any other store in America, he said.
Oh, and don’t forget the craze of the 90s – Beanie Babies. “I’ve had three unpleasant moments in retail in 33 years,” Glenn said. One of them involved the small stuffed animals made popular by the Ty toy company. “Two ladies got in a fight over Princess Diana,” he said, and he had to separate them.
Ever the baseball fan, on a whim in 1990, Glenn put a box of baseball cards on a counter. They began to sell, and Glenn had found another niche. “So we opened a little sports room in the back, and it grew and grew,” he said.
Lori, something of a baseball fanatic herself, joined the family business in 1995. “In 2006 they sold Cinnamon Bear and opened Legends Sports Gallery, a sports-focused memorabilia and collectibles business, also in Main Street Village.
After a decade, they moved to Bluffton and opened Reminisce in its current location.
This Christmas time will be one that’s bittersweet for the Glenns, as it will be their last in the retail business. On Christmas Eve, they will close the doors on their 33-year history of retail business.
But not to worry, this isn’t the end of the line for the dynamic father-daughter team. Jerry and Lori are remodeling a garage and an office and plan to continue selling the memorabilia and collectibles, including their beloved Scotties, online. The working name is Reminisce Legends.
Jerry will continue to offer appraisals on collections, and Lori will handle most of the business end.
Jerry has no plans to stop working. “If God is good to me and gives me a few more years,” the 89-year-old said, “I have a lot of things I want to do.”