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Maia Gifts Celebrates A Milestone Anniversary

2024 is turning out to be an extra-special year for Maia Gifts, based in Glasgow. Not only is the award winning gift store a finalist in the Greats Independent Gift Retailer of the Year – Scotland category, but co-owners Soni Ahmed and Samantha Rose are excited to be celebrating Maia’s 15thanniversary. 

Above: Maia’s co-owners Soni Ahmed and Samantha Rose.
Above: Maia’s co-owners Soni Ahmed and Samantha Rose. asked Soni about the couple’s decision to open a gift shop in 2009, during the recession, and how the store has evolved.

“The idea to create a unique gift store and luxury ice cream parlour was born after Samantha and I returned from a backpacking trip in India. Deciding to leave our respective careers in accounting and engineering behind us, we just had too good an opportunity to turn down at a prime location in the centre of Glasgow.We were confident, if a little naive, that we could make it work, even during a major economic recession. Ultimately, we were looking for a better work-life balance.”


What was the concept of the shop? 

“The original concept was to create a design-led gift store alongside an ice cream parlour that also offered other sweet treats. However, the ice cream side evolved quickly into a coffee shop with a lunch offering, as we realised that people don’t want ice cream and cakes for lunch every day! In 2010 we launched our ecommerce site which was in the early days of online shopping. Getting our first online orders was very exciting. In 2011, we relocated around the corner to make way for a large retail development. This meant that the coffee shop had to be sacrificed, as we simply didn’t have the space to do both businesses. I still miss the gelato ice cream now!”

How has Maia evolved over the years?

“We try to source many more product ranges from local suppliers and only stock vegan/vegetarian friendly products. In recent years the tourist footfall has increased in the city, so we now convert parts of the store to include a greater offering of tourist gifts and souvenirs.

“From day one we saw that the store had something special. In 15 years, not a single day has passed without someone complimenting the store. We feel very grateful that we have been able to bring some happiness to our customers.”

So far, what have been the highlights? 

“The rewards of running our business are numerous, working with a great team, seeing the success of our hard work and, more importantly, connecting with a wide variety of people from all over the world. We see Maia as a community service not just a business for profit. Life in the current era is tough for a lot of people so the store offers a little light relief. People can come in and enjoy the interesting and unique products which can brighten their day!

“A personal highlight was winning The Greats Award in 2016. It felt like real validation for the tireless work that goes into the business. We still show off the trophy proudly today!”


What have been the challenges as an independent gift retailer over the past 15 years?

“Just to survive and stay in business at times is an achievement. In our 15 years we have seen some very tough times for retail, with one of the hardest being the Covid lockdowns. We had to find ways to still reach our customer base and we did that by offering a free-drop off service to anyone in the Glasgow area. Sam and I became couriers for that time.

Being in a city centre we are competing against the bigger retailers. We don’t have their marketing budgets but where we excel is our personal touch and great customer service.”


What do you see as the secret of your success?

“I think consistency is the secret to success. Sounds rather boring, but not letting your standards drop, staying fresh and exciting for the customer is key in my opinion. As I mentioned above, Maia has always had its own magic from the beginning. We don’t really know how to quantify what it is, but it’s there!”


How are you celebrating 15 years?

“We have some exciting plans to mark this special year, and they will definitely involve some fund raising for our charity partner, Action for Children, as well as some special offer days with discounts and giveaways to reward our loyal customer base. The team will also have a wee celebration night, I’m sure!”


What’s in the pipeline for the rest of this year?

“We hope to see the strong sales of 2023 continue into this year. We have already had a great run with Valentine’s and Mother’s Day, and now we are gearing up for Easter and the tourist season. The hard work continues…!”

Top: Maia Gifts, based in Glasgow, is celebrating the shop’s 15 year milestone anniversary this year.

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