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December 7, 2017
Authentic: Karen Cavin
The lights at The 5 Senses glow onto Market Street as the early evening air chills, and owner Karen Cavin takes a moment to sit in her homey back office. It’s the calm before the hustle of holiday shopping begins, and she’s stocked, staffed and ready.
“This will be my thirteenth Christmas here,” she says. The 5 Senses is one of the older retail shops in the borough, and Karen has adapted as the retail climate has changed. She’s learned what sells better in West Chester and has adjusted her inventory to reflect these changes, such as filling her back room with a great selection of greeting cards. “First Pages closed, then Penwick,” Karen says. “People needed a place to buy cards!”
She counts other small business owners in West Chester as colleagues and friends. “West Chester is a small community and we are happy to send customers to another shop that might have something specific that we do not sell. I really love working in West Chester with the other business owners because we are not in competition. It really is all about complimenting each other.”
She’s also passionate about the impact small businesses have on the local economy. “When you spend $100 at a locally owned store, $63 is invested back into the community, versus only $43 when you spend the same amount at a big-box store,” she says. “In my own case, I have two employees, and add help during the holidays. All the artists whose work is featured in The 5 Senses have employees, so every sale goes toward helping others. That makes me happy.”