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That's a wrap!
Sisters share holiday spirit and entrepreneurial skills
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Cari Shelkoff, 23, right, and sister Jules, 20, wrap gifts for last-minute shoppers at Statesboro Mall Friday. The sisters have been a holiday institution at the mall for nine years. - photo by SCOTT BRYANT/staff

Cari Shelkoff needed money. For gas. For college. For trips she dreamed of making.

About nine years ago, she decided to match her needs with those of busy holiday shoppers and started a gift wrapping booth at Statesboro Mall. It was a perfect match, and her sister, Jules joined her shortly thereafter.

The sister team is now an institution at the mall during the holiday season, often joined by their mother to service shoppers who are short on time or not confident in their gift-wrapping abilities.

Both sisters love people, and that's the aspect they love most. It's evident in the number of return customers they have every year.

Gift wrapping isn't the only service they provide. They have become a default information booth, as well, often fielding questions about where to shop, where to find certain gifts, and even giving directions for how to get around Statesboro.

Their favorite regular questions? "Do you wrap gifts?" (Yes, they really get that one frequently.)

And "What should I get for my wife?"

Funniest encounter with a last minute shopper? A man came in on a rainy Christmas Eve and was stumped about what to give his wife. He ended up buying her an umbrella, a rain coat, and rain boots. The sisters bit their tongues as they wrapped them for the fellow.

They wrapped just about everything under the moon. Their most unusal/challenging feats? Wrapping a bicycle or a basketball goal.

The most touching story they've encountered? A woman recovering from a brain tumor brought her gifts in to be wrapped because she couldn't kneel on the floor anymore. They were impressed by her spirit to share despite her difficulties.

Cari admitted that it took her a while to get really good at wrapping and that Jules was more of a natural. Both are pros, now, however.

Advice to those who still prefer to wrap at home? The best attributes a gift wrapper can have are patience and tape. Lots of tape.


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