Story Project Visits The Holiday Shop In Hillsboro


The Holiday Shop in downtown Hillsboro is a warm and welcoming environment.

Shop owners Ross and Marie Owens are friendly and eager to help make your holidays special. After witnessing their interaction with customers, one can see how passionate they are. You aren’t just a customer, but rather a friend.

The Holiday Shop is a shop like no other, selling everything from real vanilla to wreaths, wood metal decorations and little sculptures to cards and ornaments. They have everything you need to make your year special.

Marie’s business and journey to America all started in 2011 when she met Ross through online dating. They communicated long distance for a year until he came to Hong Kong to meet her in person.

Marie is originally from a small town in the Ilocos Norte region of the Philippines.  It was hard to find work in the area so Marie took a job in Hong Kong and ended up staying there for 14 years.

After meeting Ross, she was excited to come to America, but it took a year to get the paperwork finalized. When she came in 2013, they got married and started their life together.

When Marie thought about America, she pictured a big city like New York City.  To her surprise, Ross brought her to the little town of Hillsboro, and she loves living here.

She used to live near the beach and had never experienced snow before. During her first winter in Hillsboro, she experienced a true Illinois winter. She loved the snow.

“She woke up one morning and came downstairs all excited to shovel snow,” Ross said.   

She still loves the Illinois winters and clearing the snow in front of her shop.

Owning a holiday shop had always been a dream of Ross’s. When he married Marie, he saw how talented she was, and saw the opportunity to make that dream come true. 

“He asked me to make some center pieces and sell them in the backyard,” Marie exclaimed smiling.

After selling out of all the crafts, they decided to find a building to start their business. In 2015, The Holiday Shop opened on Main Street in Hillsboro. Even though the she never saw herself making crafts, she has taken an opportunity and grown a successful business from it. 

Marie is hard-working, friendly and knows no strangers.  If you visit her shop, you will walk away with a friend and probably a few new things for your house.

Marie did not know much about making crafts, but she has learned along the way. She makes the majority of the items in the shop including wreaths and wood art. They also offer custom-made hand painted or stenciled wood decorations.

“Hand painted and printed wood decorations are really popular right now”, said Elisha Hughes, who has ordered several pieces for her new home from Marie.

Several times a year, the Owens couple drive 2,300 miles to Texas to pick up the metal decorations they sell in their shop. Prior to COVID-19, they participated in craft shows on the weekends and they brought in a lot of income for their business.

So this year has been a challenging one. Ross and Marie hope to expand their shop in the future, and buy a building of their own. They have even entertained the idea of an Asian market in their shop to serve the local population.

Ross and Marie invite  local residents to explore their shop full of decorations to make your holidays special. Located at 304 S. Main Street, in Hillsboro, The Holiday Shop is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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This story is part of a series of interviews called “The Story Project,” conducted by Montgomery County 4-H members. 

The Story Project gives a unique opportunity for youth to develop intercultural competencies and practice intercultural communication. It also creates an opportunity for open communication between community members and immigrants in hopes that newcomers can feel welcome. 

For more information on this project, or Montgomery County 4-H, please contact Elisha Hughes at University of Illinois Extension or call 217-532-3941.


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