NOTTINGHAM, Md. — Right off Bel Air Road, next to a big red monster truck, sits Lily's Shop. Its home is a building hand-painted with beautiful, colorful murals, including one of a smiling, blond girl at the entrance.
That little girl is two-and-half-year-old Lily, who is just as smiley in real life as she is in the mural. She loves to try out the toys in the store, follow around her mom and owner Gabrielle Grande, and greet customers. Grande is just thankful her daughter is even here to welcome people.
"When I was pregnant with Lily, we found out she was going to be born with Down Syndrome and a pretty significant hole in her heart," said Grande.
At four months old, Lily underwent an intense, 10-hour surgery to fix the hole in her tiny heart.
"She is good for a year now so her heart is very solid. She has the heart warrior scar. We couldn’t be more proud of our Lily."
Grande wanted to find a job where she could be with Lily full time while also supporting her and her two brothers. A trip to a second-hand children's clothing store inspired her to open Lily's Shop in September of 2020.
"After we opened, we noticed so many stores having trouble and most of the families who came into us in the beginning were struggling," she said.
They take gently used children's clothing, toys, books, etc. If a family needs it, they can receive a store credit for their donation to buy more age-appropriate items for their kids.
"I love getting the donations but our basement is full. We would very much like to have people come by to buy some of this stuff so we can rotate it through," Grande said.
She said while the donations have been pouring in, the customers have been trickling in. She said they're lucky if they get one customer a day.
Grande has applied for non-profit status for both the store and her organization called Lily's Heart, which seeks to spread kindness and help others. But until that application is approved, she admits she's struggling to keep the business afloat.
"I can’t walk away. This is it for us, we gotta make this work," she said. "I’ve got kids that are counting on me for everything, their food, their clothes their house and I’m not letting them down."
Every time she looks at her smiling daughter's face, her determination is renewed to keep moving forward and make Lily's Shop a success for her family.
"We need something for her future. I want to stay home with her, want to make sure she has a solid foundation."
Lily's Shop is open Wednesday-Sunday. The hours vary, which can be found on their Facebook page as well as details about upcoming events.