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by jJane

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A ray of sunshine and a pot of gold

If there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow it would surely lead to a diminutive emporium known as thegallery. Though humble in name, the welcoming doorway is reminiscent of a village store, like something out of a fairy tale.

The colorful, unusual merchandise in this real-life pot of gold are imaginative and slightly quirky, but they have two things in common--a sense of comfort and beauty, as if chosen just for the individual visitor.

That may not be too far off the mark when you discover owner Ruth Anne Colley has the attitude that her well-stocked boutique is as much the setting for a good chat, a little prayer, or a word of encouragement as it is the place for fine gifts, haute couture clothing, a huge selection of hand-painted needlepoint canvases and threads, plus myriad art media from around the globe.

It would take the entire page to list what she carries, but let us say that if you need a card to go with that gift, or an accessory to finish that new outfit, or a nicely scented Lampe Berger for a housewarming, you can also find all that and more.

With the store's 10th year anniversary just around the corner, I asked Ruth Anne if she is ready to slow down. She smiled her Mona Lisa smile and said, "I work very hard, but I play hard, too." I assume she refers to the several times a year she is able to leave thegallery in the knowledgeable hands of her "girls" and get away to some exotic destination.

Next month she heads to Rome where she will undoubtedly come home with samples of jewelry, pottery, textiles or something else that catches her well-honed eye for comfort and beauty. Upon arrival, the tiny shop will be turned upside down to make room for displaying new merchandise that will not stay long on the shelf.

Another reason for Ruth Anne's love of thegallery is that it gives her a venue to showcase area artists whose work has made its way into her heart. She will tell you of the many who caught her eye when they first started and are now renowned artisans and artists.

Whether it is pottery or handcrafted stone jewelry, luscious chocolates or some English tea, there is always a story in it. One such tale is the reason there are several lines of clothing. "I never expected thegallery to become a woman's clothing store, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. So many customers fell in love with the various designers and their luxurious, yet washable clothing and accessories I bought more for myself (plus a few extra pieces to hang) that I simply had to grow that end of the business."

Well known from Kansas City to Dallas, thegallery (www.shopthegallery.com) is located off Interstate 35 at Exit 72 in Pauls Valley, Okla. At 204 West Paul, two doors down from the post office in historic downtown, the store is easy to find and should be your first stop when you are in the neighborhood. Feel welcome to call 405-207-9527 to get updates on events.

In fact, you may want to stay at Pecan Cottage Bed & Breakfast (www.pecancottage.com) while you are in the area. Give yourself and your girlfriends a chance to get to know Pauls Valley a little better and be able to take your time visiting with Ruth Anne at thegallery.

Editor's note: Susen Foster is the owner of Pecan Cottage Bed & Breakfast in Pauls Valley, Okla. She is the author of numerous travel books. Susen can be reached at www.greatersuccess.com or call 580-622-5408.

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