Gold Star Boutique and Gifts was not named frivolously.
Diane Massey, who cut the ribbon, officially opening the shop May 29 during a ceremony to honor the memory of her son, the late Sgt. Josh Blaney, who was killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan in 2007.
Massey and her daughter, Carley Blaney, opened the shop together in April. The mother-daughter duo had been brain-storming for names when Blaney came up with the idea to name it after the military term used to describe families who suffer combat losses.
“If you’re a Blue Star family, that means you have an active soldier in the military,” Blaney said, “But you become a Gold Star family when somebody in your immediate family is killed in action.”
Massey has participated in many events for Gold Star Families and is an active member in American Gold Star Mothers. She said she hopes the name of her new shop will bring awareness about what many military families experience.
“I want people to understand what a Gold Star family is,” Massey said. “Most people don’t know.”
As customers walk into the store they are greeted front and center by a table filled with red, white and blue and military items, as well as pictures and a portrait of Josh Blaney, a Charlotte native. Massey, who relocated to Fort Mill after her son left high school, said her family has always been patriotic and that having visuals of her son in the store will keep his spirit alive.
“When people walk in here, I want them to see his picture and I want them to ask me, ‘Who is that?’” Massey said. “That keeps him alive in everybody’s mind and that’s his way of his living on through us. He’ll always be here in my heart but I want other people to know of the extreme sacrifice that the made and the sacrifice that we have to live with every day.”
Prior to opening Gold Star Boutique and Gifts, Massey worked at a small store in North Carolina, but wanted the chance to open her own shop closer to her home in Fort Mill. It also provided her with the opportunity to sell clothing items, which her old store didn’t carry.
Massey said she believes her son would be proud she is doing what she loves, especially because she did it with his sister; He often played the role of mediator between the two, Massey said.
“There was a time when Carley and I couldn’t get along,” Massey said.
Both women said the process of opening the store – ordering clothes and gifts and setting up the shop – during the past several months had been stressful and came with some moments of buyer’s remorse, but that it’s become a less bumpy ride.
“We found the place and that worked out and it’s just like everything started rolling together,” Massey said. “Everything just fell into place and I knew that Josh was behind that because he was wanting it for us.”
The ribbon cutting was attended by family, friends, members of the Chamber of Commerce and the Lancaster County Council, including Chairman Larry McCullough of Indian Land. The County Council presented a proclamation declaring it Gold Star Boutique Day in Lancaster County.