Gifts For Everyone -- And A Desk

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Eagle Mountain on Main Street is a store with personality, plus a cat.

The furniture store currently features desks, gifts, a full line of mission-style oak furniture and home décor -- both new and on consignment -- for masculine and feminine tastes. The multi-dealer marketplace is filled with an abundance of gift items, from crosses to candles to bears, both stuffed and cast in resin.

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Sharon Wise has been with Wesley Schleef, owner of Eagle Mountain Gallery of Gifts, since about a month after he opened. "I buy things and I line them up nice and neat and nice and straight," Schleef said. "Sharon is the decorator, the arranger. She comes in and makes our store beautiful."

"We are trying to be something different here," said owner Wesley Schleef. "We want to do something for the people of Payson. We want the tourist trade too, but I'm a hometown boy and I love small businesses."

He grew up in Sedona, where his dad owned a service station when "service" was the standard.

Sedona's main street is the highway and very congested. Main Street in Payson is not.

"I chose Main Street. I like what I think is going to happen on Main Street," he said. "We are going to be a part of that. I believe that we are going to be a success on Main Street and help it grow."

Schleef got his "feet wet" during the time he had dealer space at Moose Mountain in Pine. He owned a "Water ‘n Ice" store and a laundromat in the Valley for 10 years. Before that, he worked for a medical equipment company.

"I was a weekender up here," he said. "I wanted to be a full-timer, so I sold those businesses.

"What I've found is that there are a couple of niches in the marketplace here in Payson," he said. "We had a couple of used desks to start and people said, ‘Oh, man, you can't find used desks anywhere.' So I went out and bought ten desks. I've got two left."

Schleef does special orders for furniture and gift items, lay-a-way and gift certificates for his customers.

"I like buying things," he said. "If we don't have it, we'll find it. I like working in retail with the customers."

Majestic eagles and bronze horses to adorn a tabletop are available for purchase in the gallery. Across the room sails the consigned replica of a ship in dark wood, displayed near bureaus and buffets.

Customers browsing the other side of the store will find items like jewelry and stuffed animals.

The dealers who rent space in the marketplace choose the themes of the different nooks where they display their inventory.

Alice Wilson has vintage items, glassware and an assortment of salt and pepper shakers. Joe Hefner has art antiques and Hummel collectibles. Primal Soaps and Salt City Candles add to Sherri Gray's shabby chic items. Forest animals, trains and handmade purses are the wares of Ron and Donn Bumann. Sharon Wise has picture frames and will be creating flower arrangements. Tamiko Yoshimura-Staack has moved her woodsy home decor and critters from Pine.

Yoshimura-Staack said she likes being a dealer as opposed to owning a store herself, where she would have to work every single weekend.

"My things will still sell because he is open every day of the week," she said.

"The store is my life," Schleef smiled. "So it's a darn good thing I like being here."

A cat named Sylvester gets to come with Schleef to work.

Eagle Mountain wouldn't be the same without its mascot.

Though 16 years old and blind, the friendly silver tabby greets customers, who pick him up and gently pet and exclaim over him.

But Sylvester has lots of vet bills and doesn't want to ride for free, so late this spring, Sylvester's Back Yard Sale area will open.

Eagle Mountain is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday at 501 W. Main St., Suite C, Payson. For more information, telephone (928) 468-0012.

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