A new boutique at 40th Street and Chandler Boulevard is bringing affordable style to a shopping center that is slowly filling with more small local businesses.

Leslie Grady-Atwood says she's always joked with her husband that some day she would open her own boutique. The two travel often and Grady has always been attracted to the boutiques she finds.

Three years ago she began Expressions of Thanks, a business that provides gifts and thank you cards for corporations.

Grady packages and ships Fairy Tale Brownies, Cookies From Home and flowers from local flower shops along with many other gifts on behalf of clients. So far Expressions of Thanks has been mostly online and shipping from a warehouse in Tempe.

"I got tired of the warehouse thing and started doing shows showing some of our wares," Grady said. "I realized it is very difficult to take everything around. I came up with the idea, that if we already had a business going, why not open up the front to a boutique and still run the corporate business out of the back."

Grady found a store front in her own neighborhood of Ahwatukee Foothills and Expressions Boutique was born. Grady had her grand opening on Monday.

Throughout the year the shopping center has seen more local small businesses opening up.

Grady says she's excited to work with the other shops in the complex like her neighbors at Wedge and Bottle Cheese Shop. She's also trying to buy as many items in her boutique as possible from local vendors.

The boutique is full of many different gift ideas. Grady has a large collection of humorous signs like, "Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy." She also carries a lot of candles, home décor, spa items, wine accessories, clothing and jewelry.

"It's a little bit of everything," she said. "The stuff that we have you can't find other places. I have searched high and low for my items."

Grady says she considers herself a bargain shopper and she likes to pass those deals on to her customers. None of her items are consignment, they're all brand new, and Grady says she usually only orders one or two of each item. Between her corporate business, her boutique and also being a shopper for a salon in Scottsdale, Grady says she plans to keep items rotating so there's always something new to look at.

The boutique, 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., Suite 42, can be found online at expressionsboutiqueaz.com. For more information on the boutique or Expression of Thanks, call (480) 704-1369.

"It's just a fun, unique shopping experience," Grady said. "I had some girls come in last week and they were here for an hour and a half just walking around. Every time you walk around there's something new you see that you didn't see before."

Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com

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