With both partners new to the world of retail, they also asked other vendors for tips on how to run the store. After spending five days at the market, the duo made their return trip to Houston with 1,200 glass fish, Long said.
“I just kept thinking to myself on that drive home, ‘If it doesn’t work, I’ll use it in my house,” he said.
The shop may have gotten off to an interesting start, but Bliss on 19th went on to become one of the oldest shops on 19th Street in the Houston Heights, surviving the 2008 economic recession, Hurricane Harvey and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Long describes the shop as offering “distinct gifts, home decor and more.” When customers walk through the entrance, they can explore the shop through a series of vignettes; home decor items are at the front, which leads to a bridal and new home area, followed by a bath and candle area, a selection of gift cards against the wall and an area for baby items in the back.
“What I want to do is stir [customers’] sense of creativity,” Long said. “If they see something, they might not buy it at first, but when they go home, they’ll see the space in their house where that item would fit perfectly.”
Items in the shop are all hand-selected by Long. When perusing markets for goods, Long said he prefers smaller vendors, which he said often provide more interesting gifts, so his shop is always changing.
Key to his success, Long said, has been customer service. When customers comment on how they like a certain item, but would prefer it in another color or at a different size, Long makes a note to look for such an item the next time he is at a market.
During his 17 years working in the oil and gas industry, Long said he often imagined his life when he retired as owning a small boutique near the ocean with a stained glass studio.
As the owner of Bliss on 19th, he might not be near the ocean, but Long said he still appreciates getting the chance to use his discerning taste to bring distinct and artsy items to his clientele. He also enjoys providing his customers a place to feel at ease while they shop, free of distraction and able to take their time.
“I have regulars who come in without any plans to buy anything,” he said. “They tell me that they just need a little bit of bliss.”
Bliss on 19th
235 W. 19th St., Houston
Hours: Mon. 11 a.m.-4 p.m., Tue.-Sat.10 a.m.-6 p.m., Sun. noon-5 p.m.
First Saturday Arts Market
Bliss on 19th is among the shops in the area that takes part in the First Saturday Arts Market event each month, during which time shops offer entertainment and raise money for local groups. Bliss raises money for Fields and Helms elementary schools as well as the Houston Heights Association.
Dec. 3: First Saturday Arts Market, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.